CRICKET: Hadleigh & Thundersley are celebrating winning the Dukes Essex League Cup for the first time in their history.

Hadleigh saw off Hornchurch by 64 runs in an entertaining final.

And skipper Sam Handley remains delighted with the victory.

“I’m still buzzing to be honest and I’m sure a lot of us will still be celebrating for a while,” said Handley.

“It’s a great moment for us as a team and for the club in general as it’s the first time Hadleigh have ever won the league cup.

“A lot of us have been playing together for a long time too.

“Getting into the Prem and doing well is a good achievement however to finally get some silverware is something we can all look back on once our playing days as a group come to an end.”

However, Handley was keen to stress it has been a squad effort.

“We took 14 players in the squad to the final and I must mention the three lads that didn’t make the 11,” said Handley.

“Ishen Patel’s wickets all year in the first team have been key to getting us to the final.

“Ethan Rogers and Kian Vapiwala are also two youngsters who have impressed me massively and they are going to be big first team players for the club in the future.”

Hadleigh opted to bat first and were bowled out for 201, with the addition of 10 penalty runs.

Luke Smith top scored with 36 while Jack Wagstaff added 32 in the clash played at Wickford’s Patmore Memorial ground.

In reply, Hornchuch were bowled out for 137 with Adam Dobson taking 3/23.

Handley, Oliver Smith and Haider Ali Syed Zaidi all chipped in with two wickets each and the skipper felt everyone played their part in the victory.

“Finals are always hard games to predict because pressure affects people in different ways,” said Handley.

“We got off to a good start but then we started to lose wickets in a cluster.

“I thought the middle and lower order did fantastically to get us up to a defendable score.

“Luke Smith, Adam Dobson, Louis Poynter and Ryan Funnell all made great contributions towards the back-end.”

And it was also a team effort with the ball.

“We all worked well as a unit,” said Handley.

“Adam Dobson and Louis got us off to a great start and then it continued from there.

“We took regular wickets throughout to keep Hornchurch pegged back but when the final wicket was taken that’s when the celebrations started and I’ve been smiling ever since.”

Victory came after Hadleigh had already secured a sixth place finish in the Premier Division and meant the season ended on a high.

“It’s been an up and down season and finishing sixth in the league wasn’t what we hoped for,” said Handley.

“However cricket works in funny ways.

“We have our worst league finish in four years but then win the cup the club has been trying to win for over 75 years.”