Swardeston battle back to take Carter Cup

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Swardeston’s renowned ability to fight their way out of a tight corner surfaced again yesterday as they beat Horsford by 47 runs to lift the Carter Cup in the competition’s 40th anniversary year.

Having won the toss and batted, Mark Thomas’ side suffered a middle order collapse to tumble to 146 for eight. But crucially, Jaden Hatwell was still at the crease and he batted supremely to reach 77, adding 58 for the last two wickets and those runs were to prove the difference between the two sides.

Thomas had no hesitation in batting first and although Rob Newton departed early on, caught behind off Richard Gilliatt’s bowling, Loyala Herathge and Peter Lambert took the score up to 57.

Nathan Perry-Warnes conjured a direct hit run out to remove Herathge and Peter Lambert, dropped at gully on 18, was the next man to go, bowled trying to hit spinner James Wild over the top.

That brought together the key pairing of Hatwell and Richard Sims and they had few difficulties in guiding Swardeston through to 118 for three at lunch from 39 overs.

Hatwell had already deposited Wild for four and six in his first over, while Sims was particularly impressive, driving two sumptuous straight fours before launching another Wild delivery over the ropes.

But from that comfortable position at the break, Swardeston faltered as Horsford bit back after lunch.

Jim Rice ended Sims’ promising innings on 23, before Will Rist departed third ball, caught by Matt Wilkinson off Wild.

George Walker showed positive intent by hitting a six early in his innings, but he went soon afterwards and was followed two balls later by Ian Tufts, both men caught by Wild as Horsford skipper Chris Brown got into the action.

A mix-up between Thomas and Hatwell saw the captain depart for seven and at 146 for eight, Swardeston were struggling to hit 200.

But not for the first time this season they dug deep and Hatwell found the perfect ally in the determined Michael Eccles.

Hatwell brought up his 50 with a six and the ninth wicket pair had added 39 before Eccles was finally removed by Brown.

Sam Thelwell picked up the baton and refused to throw his wicket away, allowing Hatwell to add more precious runs.

The New Zealander clipped Brown over midwicket for six and when he tried to repeat the shot next ball, he was dropped at deep square leg.

Hatwell had another let off in the next over when he was put down at extra cover, but Brown then tempted him into another miscue and this time the safe hands of Jaik Mickleburgh brought the innings to a close on 204 in the 57th over.

Perry-Warnes hit two elegant fours as Horsford made a solid start to their reply, but the opener then played on to the nerveless Thelwell.

Keeper Will Rist is first to congratulate Richard Sims after his catch sealed the Carter Cup for Swardeston. Picture: Denise Bradley
Keeper Will Rist is first to congratulate Richard Sims after his catch sealed the Carter Cup for Swardeston. Picture: Denise Bradley
Enter Essex Academy prospect Mickleburgh and he immediately stamped his class on proceedings with a well-timed clip through midwicket for four off Eccles.

Swardeston sensed that his was the key wicket and they were furious when a caught behind appeal off Thelwell was rejected.

Thomas brought himself into the attack and his first ball looked a harmless leg stump half volley – until Mickleburgh hit at straight to Lambert at square leg and Swardeston had their man.

Jamie Heyburn had lasted until the 20th over for his five runs, but he was caught at slip by Sims in Hatwell’s third over as the Horsford effort began to stumble.

Their hopes now rested with Australian Wild, but he could not survive left-arm spinner George Walker’s first over as Hatwell collected the catch at slip.

The man of the moment was again called into action three balls later as Walker induced an edge from Matthew Warnes to make it 51 for five.

Wilkinson joined Luke Caswell and the pair batted sensibly, adding 35 as they worked the spinners around nicely. Wilkinson, however, was caught behind trying to play Sims off the back foot and two balls later, Horsford’s hopes suffered a hammer blow when Brown was bowled by the Zimbabwean.

Sims made it three wickets in four balls as Rice offered a caught and bowled chance and Horsford looked set for a crushing defeat.

They were spared that ignominy by Gilliatt and Caswell, who added 55 for the ninth wicket.

Gilliatt was typically forthright with four fours and two sixes in his 45, while Caswell was undeniably the pick of the Horsford batsmen, making 43 before he sliced Thomas high into the covers where a diving Walker managed to pouch the swirling ball.

When Gilliatt steered an Eccles delivery into the hands of Sims at backward point it was all over and for the sixth time in the Carter Cup’s 40-year history, Swardeston’s name was on the trophy.

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