RAVI Bopara made a surprise appearance for Hainault & Clayhall to help condemn Wickford to relegation on Saturday.
The England and Essex all-rounder made his first club appearance in a decade to help Hainault win by eight wickets.
And Wickford skipper Andy Baker admitted his players found it hard going against Bopara’s bowling.
“It’s not every week you face someone who can reverse swing an old ball so it was certainly a test for our batters,” said Baker.
“When we heard Ravi might be turning out it was always going to be a tall order. The rumours started when we arrived but he didn’t actually turn up until just before the start.
“Hainault are actually a good team without him but he did add that little extra.”
Bopara took two wickets for 36 runs off of 14 overs, but he was not required to bat as Hainault reached the required total for the loss of just two wickets.
“It wasn’t a great performance from us again, which has unfortunately been the story of our season,” said Baker.
“It was a game we needed to win to have any chance of staying up, but we didn’t get enough runs and they batted very positively to make short work of our total.”
Wickford batted first after winning the toss and made 143 in their innings with opener Darren Robinson top scoring with 64.
However, no other batsman scored more than 23 runs and the total was never going to be enough to trouble Hainault who cruised home for the loss of just two wickets.
The victory also pushed Hainault 38 points clear of Wickford with just one game to go, meaning Wickford will be down in Division Two next season.
However, Southend & EMT will not be joining them after drawing with Hadleigh & Thundersley at Southchurch Park.
Hadleigh were put into bat after losing the toss and scored 303/7 with skipper Adam Soilleux leading the way with 119.
Kellon Carmichael added 66 and opener Paul Tibbenham 35.
Southend skipper Joe Robbins was the pick of the bowlers, taking 4/86.
In reply, Southend made 271/7 with Sam Rowe leading the way with 93.
Opener Oliver Wagstaff impressed with 81 as the game ended in a draw.
And Southend captain Robbins was thrilled to see the team maintain their Division One status for another season.
“We’ve got to be proud of coming up a division, and comfortably surviving relegation with a game to go because it’s a great achievement,” said Robbins.
“But in terms of this actual game, 303 was always going to be a tough score to get.
“Adam Soilleux played a great innings for his hundred which was thoroughly deserved, but we showed great character to get close with 271-7.
“Special mentions should also go to Sam Rowe and Oliver Wagstaff who both played really well and got us within touching distance.”
The draw means Southend are seventh in the table, while Hadleigh remain in third.
And their bowler Dave Williams felt the game had a fair outcome at the weekend.
“We declared after 50 overs obviously looking to give us more time to get the win which was always going to be tough on such a good batting surface,” said Williams.
“Southend looked like they might get close to chasing down to the target, but I think it was a fair result in the end.
“Both teams will be strong again next year.”