2015 was another memorable season at the Rectory Field, with Blackheath becoming National Club Champions for the second time.
In League Cricket the Club had a moderate year by its own standards, despite remaining the only Club with 4 teams in the KCL structure.
An extremely young 4th XI found the 2nd XI Division 2 tough going and were relegated despite Ben Butcher leading from the front with 47 league wickets. Disal Wijerathne gave support with 28 wickets and over 200 runs, but the batsman struggled as only Billy Crone showed any form with 323 league runs.
The Club’s 3rd XI finished comfortably in mid-table but hopes of an immediate return to the 1st XI Division 4 never really materialised as availability limited the chance of developing any kind of form. The ever-reliable Hadeligh Luff (369 runs) and Simon Martin (514 runs) led the batting honours, with skipper Dan Carter (34 wickets) and a young Fahik Huda (22 wickets) spearheading the attack.
The Club’s 2nd XI also failed to secure an immediate return to the 2nd XI Premier League. Despite being top for a large part of the season, the side suffered an unexplainable loss of confidence against sides towards the bottom of the table in August.
David Foster (727 runs) was the league’s leading run scorer, and he was well supported by Vic Kandampully (650 runs) and Richard Fleming (608 runs). The ever-green Rupert Staple (26 wickets) led the attack, and James Yandell who will lead the side in 2016, weighed in with 23 wickets but their efforts and a last day win over Bickley Park was not enough to dislodge from Folkestone from the final promotion spot.
Tanweer Sikandar again secured the Kent Premier League’s Leading Run Scorer Award with 714 runs at an average of 47.6. Support came in the form of Michael Thornely (341 runs) and a maturing Dipayan Paul (349 runs). Sikandar also bagged 28 wickets but Jahid Ahmed was back to his best after a disappointing 2014, with 29 wickets at an average of 15.52 which included a hatrick against eventual champions Hartley CC.
Despite never looking likely to drop out of the top 4, the Club’s 1st XI also never looked likely to threaten the leaders following 3 bad results in June when the side included Australian international Nic Maddinson and was arguably at its strongest.
Cup competitions proved the perfect distraction however and the Club were again Kent T20 Champions in 2015. Victories over Catford Wanderers, Holmesdale and Bromley paved the way to a washed-out Finals Day, and hastily rearranged matches brought a Semi-Final victory over Bexley and a Final defeat of Gore Court to take Blackheath into the Regional Stages.
A poor wicket at Wimbledon CC saw Blackheath defeat East Grinstead in a tight South of England Semi-Final thanks to 43 from Warren Lee, 38* from Michael Thornely and 3-18 for Jahid Ahmed. The Final saw Blackheath bow out to Wimbledon whose large total produced scoreboard pressure that saw the Club lose 5 wickets inside the first 8 overs.
The disappointment of exiting one National Cup strengthened Blackheath’s resolve in another. By this point, victories over Bromley Common, Hastings & St Leonard’s Priory, Preston Nomads, Bromley and Brentwood had taken the Club into the National Quarter Finals.
The Club edged out East Anglia’s Swardeston CC in a nail-biter at the Rectory Field. Michael Thornely’s 58 and Dipayan Paul’s 56 laid the foundations but it was the experience of James Hands (3-26) and Tom Mees (3-34) who saw the side home, Mees dismantling the number 11’s stumps with the first ball of the last over when only 10 were required for victory.
A full-house on a gloomy day at the Rectory Field welcomed a confident Bath CC for the semi-final. The returning Tanweer Sikandar (51) and Michael Thornely (75) expertly nullified the Bath attack, then upping the pace with a gem of a cameo from Duncan Willetts (33*) taking the Club to a very competitive 217-7 from their 45. The Somerset side never came to terms with the home attack as Sikandar (3-33), Jahid Ahmed (2-18), Tom Mees (2-26) and James Hands (2-20) tore them apart to secure a 95 run victory.
Although the Final splendour of Lord’s was replaced by Kent CCC’s County Ground at Beckenham, Blackheath were greeted by a good surface and a glorious late summer’s day in familiar south London surroundings. The Liverpool Competition’s Northern CC asked the Club to bowl first and they were soon in trouble as Warren Lee (3-23) provided an opening burst that would eventually secure him the Man of the Match Award. Like so many of the Club’s victims in 2015, Northern CC never came to terms with the quality of the Blackheath attack and their final total of 161-9 seemed way short.
Jahid Ahmed (32) gave the Blackheath innings impetus with his usual display of powerful hitting and alongside skipper Chris Willetts he put on 67 for the first wicket. Willetts’s (58*) industrious accumulation was occasionally punctuated by a flowing boundary and alongside Tanweer Sikandar, who made an elegant 52* off 48 balls, the pair saw the side home with 92 balls to spare to secure one of the most comprehensive victories in the competition’s 47 year history.
James Hands ended as the competition’s leading wicket taker with 22 wickets at an average of 5.7, and Chris Willetts lifted the trophy which meant Blackheath became National Champions for the first time since 1971. They remain one of only two Kent League teams to have become National Champions, and joined Teddington CC as the only London Clubs to have won the competition twice.