Ben enjoys ‘unique’ experience

October 20, 2022

SUFFOLK’S Ben Claydon described playing in the Dream11 European Championship in Spain as a ‘unique’ experience.

The 22-year-old was part of the National Counties squad that represented England and reached the final of the T10 competition, where they lost to the Netherlands by four wickets with five balls to spare.

England, who won the inaugural competition, qualified automatically for Championship week, where they went head-to-head with the four group winners at Cartama Oval on the Costa del Sol.

They lost their opening four games, before winning the next four to qualify for Finals Day, where they defeated Scotland by eight runs and then Spain by 15 runs to reach the final.

The Copdock & Old Ipswichian all-rounder, who played in ten of England’s 11 games, said: “It took a while to get used to it, but I had a great time.

“It was relentless – we played two games a day from Monday to Thursday and then three games on the Friday.

“As a team we knew we were going in fresh, and it showed as we lost our opening four games before then winning six of the next seven.

“There were six of us who didn’t play last year, so we knew it was going to be difficult at first and for the first two days we were quite a long way behind the other teams, so not playing in the qualifying week was a handicap to us.

“I was out first ball in the opening game and didn’t play the second game, which was pre-planned to give all the players the chance to play, and we were all a bit down after the first day, but the coaches did a good job of keeping spirits up.

“They said you only need to win a couple of games to get through to finals day.”

Claydon (pictured above bowling against Scotland) suffered an inauspicious start, being dismissed first ball in the opening match as England were thrashed by nine wickets by Spain.

He said: “As a batter getting out first ball is usually the worst experience in cricket, but in this format it is the nature of the beast and so many players were getting out first ball.”

He produced a man-of-the-match display in one of the group games against the Netherlands, scoring 35 off 15 balls with one four and four sixes and then taking 4 for 26, including three wickets in four balls, from his two overs with the ball.

“The ball was either going for four or six or I was taking a wicket!” said Claydon. “I took 2 for 6 in one game against Scotland and jokingly said to the bowlers that bowling was not too difficult and then I got hit for 25 in an over in the next game!”

Spain’s Hamza Saleem Dar, who scored 37 off just 12 balls, struck Claydon for four consecutive sixes as his solitary over went for 25 in England’s eight-run win in their final group game, before dismissing him when the two sides met again as England reached the final.

“That name gives me nightmares. He hit the ball miles. One of the sixes was ridiculous – as soon as he hit it the umpire said we will need a new ball! But at least I did get him out in the next game!”

After winning six matches in a row, England were unable to defeat the Dutch in the final.

Claydon said: “We only had around half-an-hour break between the qualifier and the final, whereas the Netherlands played in the first game of the morning and then spent the rest of the day relaxing.

“We were very disappointed to lose the final. Going into it we were quite confident as we had scored 175 against the Dutch two days before and we had won our two games in the morning, so the momentum was with us, but we didn’t get enough runs and they deserved to win.

“Their opening bowler got the ball to swing and in a 10-over game if you have two or three overs when the bowlers are on top it becomes difficult to make a good total. We fought hard and did well to take it down not the final over.”

Looking back on the week-long tournament as a whole Claydon said: “It was a really good experience and if I was lucky enough to get the chance, I would love to go back. What I have learnt from this week would certainly stand me in good stead.”


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