DARREN Eckford says is it a privilege to captain Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club after clocking up a milestone appearance for the club.

The Kiwi seamer made his 150th appearance for the Castle Park outfit in their Hamro Foundation Essex League premier division draw with visitors Chingford.

Eckford claimed 3-52 in the match, taking him to 260 wickets, 1,700 runs and 46 catches to date since joining Colchester, back in 2016.

And the experienced bowler, who spent 15 years at Auckland premier cricket side Suburbs New Lynn prior to arriving in Essex, says he is enjoying helping the club’s young players to flourish.

He said: “It’s fun – they’re a great bunch of lads and they’re really competitive.

“It’s a privilege to skipper them.

“How long have I got left doing it? Well hopefully not too long as by moving some of these youngsters up, we’ve formed a little bit of a leadership group and they’re all stepping up and taking over certain responsibilities with contingency plans for when my body finally breaks down!

“We’re really lucky that we’ve got a couple of older guys who are stepping in and creating that balance to the side because we do have so much really good, young talent.

“The future for Colchester looks really bright, if this group stays together because the next group of youngsters coming through is phenomenal as well.

“We have a full group training on Wednesday nights at the cricket club where promising juniors train with the senior squads and the level of talent on display at those sessions is just really, really encouraging.

“We’re young but I see it as a huge opportunity, as these guys are seeing what it takes to play premier cricket at a young age, which means they’ll adapt pretty quickly long term.”

Colchester had to settle for a draw against Chingford.

After being put into bat, Chingford were reduced to 43 for three and then 82 for four early on.

But then a fifth-wicket partnership between Peter McDermott (77) and Harry Houldsworth (37) frustrated the hosts.

Once that partnership ended, wickets fell rather frequently and Chingford were eventually dismissed for 206.

Charlie Watts (3-48) and Eckford both claimed three wickets apiece while Vikas Agarwal (2-57) took two wickets.

Colchester were looking to make a solid start in reply - and they did just that.

Openers Joe MacGregor (47) and Ben Robinson (32) put on 59 for the first wicket.

And even after Robinson departed, MacGregor and Guy Haines (18) had a second-wicket partnership of 37.

Simon Fernandes (51 not out) then came to the crease and took up the baton.

His 34-run partnership with Kier Young (17) proved profitable but it was ultimately not enough to help Colchester get over the line and secure the win.

The hosts finished on 174 for eight, in their 57 overs.