Essex Archives: The 1982 Wadham Stringer Trophy


Amongst the plethora of trophies that the Club has won in the last four decades, there is one that has slipped under the radar when successes are deliberated and discussed. We are talking here about the Wadham Stringer Trophy.

Sanctioned as an official competition by the TCCB (forerunner of today’s ECB), the tournament was staged at the Brighton Indoor Centre on 25 April 1982 as a pre-season competition and the event proved a highly popular initiative with players and spectators.

Eight counties were involved with Warwickshire, Kent, Gloucestershire and Middlesex in Zone A, whilst Essex were joined in Zone B by Glamorgan, Hampshire and Sussex.

With the competition scheduled to start at 10am, Essex were handed a practice slot at 7:20am, but it was the night before when their pre-competition tactics and preparations took place in a local hostelry the aided by a glass or plenty of liquid inspiration and overseen by self-appointed Manager for the occasion, Raymond Eric East!

With little experience, if any, of playing the indoor format of the game, Essex met Glamorgan in the first of their zonal matches, learning the game as they went along.

Amongst the manner of usual dismissals was a regulation that allowed batsmen to be caught off the walls and ceiling.

A run was scored if the ball hit a side wall, and if batsmen crossed successfully to the opposite end, a further two runs were added. A straight hit to the wall beyond the bowler was worth four, six if it went along the ground.

Essex named a strong squad for the 7-a-side competition. Graham Gooch was Captain and was supported by Brian Hardie, Ken McEwan, Stuart Turner, John Lever, David East, Alan Lilley, Keith Fletcher, Keith Pont and Ray East.

With those background rules amongst others, Essex won their first match in the tournament by 1 wicket when Hardie gave notice of his aptitude in this form of cricket with a sparkling unbeaten 39.

Glamorgan 86-4, Essex 87-5 (Hardie 39*, Lilley 0, Gooch 16, Fletcher 3, Turner 10, Lever 2, D East 6*).

Next up were Sussex who were beaten by 4 wickets and again, Scotsman Hardie proved a key player.

Sussex 72-4, Essex 73-2 (Hardie 25, Turner 2, Gooch 36*, McEwan 6*).

Essex suffered a defeat to Hampshire in the third and final zone match by 4 wickets. With Hardie standing down from the match and with Gooch dismissed first ball, Essex were bowled out for 59.

Essex 59 (McEwan 17, Lilley 8, Gooch 0, Lever 11, D East 7, Pont 7, R East 0*), Hampshire 65-2.

In the Semi-Final, Essex beat Middlesex by 5 wickets, with John Lever returning 2 for 10 from his 3 overs. Essex were steered to victory once again by the bat of Hardie who teamed up with Gooch in an opening partnership worth 57.

Essex 89-1 (Hardie 34*, Gooch 23, McEwan 15*), Middlesex 86-3.

So, to the 12 overs Final where old adversaries Kent lay in wait. No problem though for Essex with the admirable Hardie in sublime form. He scored 47, Gooch 3, McEwan 25, Turner 2, Lilley 2, and D East 0* as Essex fell from 70-1 to 96 all out.

But Gooch returned 1 for 12 from his 3 overs and a fine display by Turner who took three catches saw Kent dismissed for 70 to leave Essex Champions by 26 runs and recipients of a £3,000 cheque and an encased large silver bat.

Hardie also carried off the tournament batting award and Turner was named as fielder of the tournament whilst the entire squad no doubt retired gracefully to celebrate their newly-found prowess at this particular format of the game

Whilst the Wadham Stringer Tournament faded into oblivion, for victors Essex, the ensuing years saw them flourish with a string of trophies – not indoors but outside.

Masters of all.