Swardeston resumed normal service with their second successive Carter Cup victory as they comprehensively defeated Norwich by six wickets at Manor Park.
Mark Thomas’ side have shown signs of vulnerability in recent weeks and were defeated by Norwich in the Norfolk Twenty20 Cup final – but they exacted sweet revenge yesterday with a dominant display.
The key figure once again for Swardeston was left-arm spinner George Walker, who continued his outstanding form by taking three for 11 from 10.4 overs to strangle the Norwich batting effort.
“It was a great day,” said Walker, who missed out on Norfolk’s recent MCCA final victory because of his commitments with Leicestershire but more than made up for it yesterday.
“I’d have been happy getting no runs and no wickets as long as we won,” he added. “It was a slowish wicket and if you bowled in the right places, you got the rewards.”
Walker said he hoped the victory – Swardeston’s sixth in the competition – would act as a springboard as they chase leaders Vauxhall Mallards in a bid to win their third successive league title.
“It’s always good to do well in the finals and a lot of different people contributed,” he said. “We have had a couple of blips recently, but we’re still second in the league, not far from the top with a bit of a gap to third place. If we can have a few blips and still be in that position, I’ll take that. We’ve got seven games to go and we’re playing Godmanchester next week, who, with respect to them, aren’t in the best form and we play Mallards at home in the last game, which could be interesting.”
Norwich were bowled out for 130 after electing to bat first and skipper Chris Borrett admitted his men were second best on the day
“It’s fairly obvious looking at the scorecard that 130 was not enough,” he said. “We weren’t hard done by, we just didn’t bat well enough, although I think it was probably our best fielding and bowling performance of the season.”
Norwich suffered the early loss of Olly Higenbottam, before Michael Eccles sent Australian James Spargo’s stumps spinning out of the ground to make it 21 for two.
Harry Bush looked elegant and untroubled and lofted spinner Jaden Hatwell’s first ball for a straight four. But two balls later the opener was heading back to the pavilion after edging behind and when Borrett mistimed an attacking shot against Walker and was caught low down at mid-on, Norwich were in trouble.
Felix Flower and Ashley Watson attempted a rebuilding job, but Hatwell accepted a sharp return catch to remove Watson and just before lunch Flower’s loose drive at Richard Sims’ second delivery was taken by Hatwell at slip, at the second attempt. Norwich went into the break on 90 for six, but in the first over after lunch, Ali Horsley was dismissed by Thomas, before the same bowler ended teenager Ben Wright’s determined innings of 18.
James Blake hit three fours before Walker wrapped things up as Norwich were all out in the 54th over.
Norwich showed more application with the ball and they had an early success when James Walker miscued a Wiseman delivery to midwicket.
Northants academy player Rob Newton, making a rare appearance for Swardeston this season, was dropped by Spargo on 14 but he added just 10 more before being trapped in front by Ashley Watson.
Hatwell and Sims expertly ticked things along as Swardeston reached 72 for two at tea, but Norwich forced their way back into the game soon after the break as Ashley Watson held on to a brilliant catch in the covers off Spargo’s bowling to remove Hatwell.
Peter Lambert looked unconvincing early on and was fortunate to survive when Spargo spurned a caught and bowled chance, but gradually gained composure and along with Sims took Swardeston to the brink of victory. With 18 needed, Sims departed for an excellent 40, but some sumptuous boundaries from Will Rist ensured that the cup-holders retained the trophy as they reached their target in the 48th over.