As befits a dashing batsman, whose swashbuckling 38-ball hundred won this year’s Walter Lawrence Trophy, Cameron Delport flew in from South Africa on a lightning visit to collect his award and join the celebrations at the Walter Lawrence Presentation Dinner at Lord’s on November 13.
Delport is currently playing for Paarl Rocks in the Mzansi Super League T20 competition, but was determined to squeeze in the trip between games to pick up the prestigious Trophy, awarded for the fastest hundred of the season, in person.
Following the traditionally convivial Champagne reception, courtesy of Veuve Clicquot, the four award winners and a packed Lord’s Long Room were treated to a splendid feast of food and entertainment, hosted for the fifth year running by Matthew Fleming. The former Kent captain and MCC President, conducted the evening’s proceedings with an abundance of flair and repartee; his expertise as an MC has undoubtedly achieved superstar status!
A sombre note preceded the dinner as a minute’s silence was observed to mark the passing of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who had died the previous day. An outstanding soldier and decorated D-Day veteran who served as Head of The Army, Dwin Bramall was elected a member of MCC in 1949, served as a trustee for almost 10 years and became President of the club in 1988-89.
The presentations, which included a mid-dinner, fleeting visit from current MCC President, Kumar Sangakkara, were followed by the evening’s guest speaker, Mike Atherton, who eloquently fielded a fascinating range of questions and topics on the game from the host.
Atherton was optimistic about the future of cricket and its diversity, and felt that the game will be T20-driven with cricket careers like Cameron Delport’s becoming more prevalent. His final question concerned what he had found the hardest: captaining England, completing deadline copy for The Times, commentating for Sky Sports or watching his son play cricket? ‘Athers’ was in no doubt… ‘watching my son play cricket’!
Cameron Delport secured this year’s Walter Lawrence Trophy, now in its 85th year, with his 38-ball hundred for Essex against Surrey in the Vitality Blast T20 competition at Chelmsford on July 19. Delport’s blistering performances in the Vitality Blast were a key factor in Essex’s success in the competition this season, which climaxed with a thrilling, last-ball win for the club on Finals day, beating Worcestershire by 4 wickets.
The 30-year-old Durban-born all-rounder, who holds a British passport, bats left-handed but bowls right-arm medium and is a global hired-gun in T20 competitions. He joined Essex on a two-year contract this season following two seasons with Leicestershire in 2017/18. Delport made his first-class debut in 2009 and T20 debut in 2010, and in the ensuing period has represented a lengthy list of teams, including South Africa A, Sydney Thunder, Chittagong Vikings, Islamabad United, Guyana Amazon Warriors, Lahore Qalanders, Kolkata Knight Riders and Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel.
Delport is the fifth Essex batsman to win the Trophy: Ray Smith won in 1948, 1951 and 1955, Colin Griffiths in 1952 and Robin Hobbs in 1975, all timed on minutes, and Graham Napier in 2008 with a 44-ball century. The competition rules changed from timed minutes to balls received in 1985. Delport is the fifth South African to win the Trophy: Roy McLean in 1960, Ray White in 1962, Graeme Pollock in 1969 and Mike Procter in 1979, while South African-born Basil D’Oliveira won in 1967 with an innings playing for England. He received the Trophy from Mike Atherton, along with a cheque for £3,000, a special medallion and a magnum of Veuve Clicquot.
England captain Heather Knight won this year’s Walter Lawrence Women’s Award after scoring a sparkling unbeaten 159 for Berkshire against Cricket Wales. Knight’s innings was scored off 125 balls and included 15 fours and 1 six in the Division 2 match at Pontarddulais CC on May 26.
Knight has been an England regular since her debut in 2010, attaining the captaincy in 2016, and to date she has played in 7 Tests, 98 One-Day Internationals and 63 T20 Internationals. The 28-year-old all-rounder led her country to a thrilling win in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, which climaxed with a nail-biting victory over India at Lord’s. Following the team’s success she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours list and in April 2018 was named one of the five Wisden Cricketers Of The Year.
Despite England Women’s hugely disappointing attempt to win back the Ashes from Australia this summer, Knight finished her season in style, captaining Western Storm to victory in the Kia Women’s Super League and winning Player of the Match for an unbeaten 78 in the final against Southern Vipers at Hove on September 1st.
Knight joins her England colleagues, Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont as a second-time winner of the award and is about to lead England Women in a December tour of Malaysia, where they’ll play Pakistan in three ODIs and three IT20s. As Knight was unable to attend due to her participation in Australia’s Big Bash League, playing for Hobart Hurricanes, her special silver medallion and prize of £500 was presented by Marian Wreford and collected on Knight’s behalf by Verity Thornton.
Oliver Batchelor of Leeds/Bradford MCCU was the winner of this year’s MCC Universities Award with a mighty 215 not out, scored against Cardiff MCCU in the 3-day drawn match at Usk CC on April 25. Reflecting on his remarkable innings, which included 29 fours and 1 six, Olly recalls, ‘I was seeing the ball like a beach ball but when I’d reached around 170 bad light stopped play and when we continued the following day it was a wet, stop/start affair, but eventually I was delighted to complete the double hundred’.
The 23-year-old right-handed batsman had an outstanding season across all formats scoring 870 runs at an average of 58. Not only did he become MCCU’s highest scorer in 2/3-day cricket with his unbeaten 215, he also made the highest individual score in the BUCS 50-over competition with an unbeaten 131.
Batchelor, who was born in Chelsea and educated at Charterhouse School, graduated from Leeds this year with a 2.1 in Accounting & Finance, but is keen to pursue a career in cricket. His passion for the game was sparked by England’s 2005 Ashes victory and he heads off to New Zealand in the autumn to play for Eastern Suburbs in Wellington. He has previously played for Surrey at Under 13, Under 14, Under 15, Under 17 and 2nd XI level, as well as 2nd XI cricket this year for Essex and Yorkshire. Olly is also a keen follower of horse racing.
Batchelor, who is the third Leeds/Bradford winner since the Award’s inception in 2006, was unavailable on the night as he was playing cricket in New Zealand, but his father and brother were on hand to receive his special silver medallion and prize of £500 from former Chairman of the England Test selectors, David Graveney.
Dani Long-Martinez won this year’s Walter Lawrence Schools Award for his powerful, unbeaten 158 for Norwich School against MCC on June 25. In the shadow of Norwich Cathedral, following MCC’s declaration after posting a total of 229-3 off 48 overs, Dani opened the batting and carried his bat in a match-winning innings which came off only 119 balls with 19 fours and 6 sixes.
Dani, who was 17 and in his Lower Sixth year for the MCC match, had a very strong season opening the batting for Norwich School 1st XI in all formats, as he did in his Fifth Form year, during which he scored over 500 runs. Spurred on by the school’s team of coaches Dani has built a reputation as a fast-scoring batsman capable of putting away the bad ball ferociously, while his move to opener in recent years has added focus and application allowing him to build bigger innings under pressure.
Dani is an impressive all-round sportsman having played hockey and tennis, as well as cricket, to county level and above, along with being an impressive sprinter and athlete. However, his main sporting focus is now rugby. After a meteoric rise over the last year for school and club, Holt, Dani debuted for Eastern Counties and London and the South-East U.18s over the winter, leading to his being scouted by Northampton Saints to join their U.18 programme as a winger. He was recently selected to join the full academy and professionals in the Premiership season curtain-raiser sevens tournament at Franklin’s Gardens, which was televised on BT Sport.
Dani is the ninth winner of the Schools Award and he received a special medallion and a Gray-Nicolls cricket bat from MCC President Kumar Sangakkara, whose surprise appearance delighted the Long Room.
The quartet of Walter Lawrence Trophy awards, supported by Veuve Clicquot, encompass four distinct areas of the game: the Walter Lawrence Trophy, for the fastest century of the season; the MCC Universities Award for the highest score by a batsman from the six MCC Universities against the first-class counties or in the MCCU Championship; The Walter Lawrence Women’s Award for the batsman who makes the highest individual score in a season from the ECB Women’s One-Day Cup and all England Women’s matches played on home soil, and, finally, the Walter Lawrence Schools Award for the highest score by a school batsman against MCC.
Picture Credits: Rupert Hartley – www.ruperthartley.co.uk