Swardeston were crowned Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League champions for a record-breaking fourth successive time at the weekend, despite suffering a comprehensive defeat in their final fixture.
Mark Thomas’ side, who went into the weekend with a 21-point advantage over their nearest rivals, went down by 96 runs at Copdock and Ipswichian after turning in a below-par batting performance.
That meant they needed second-placed Vauxhall Mallards to slip up at Frinton to secure the title, and that’s exactly what happened, with the Essex side claiming a six-wicket victory that secured runners-up position, a mere eight points behind the champions.
An exciting final day was going Swardeston’s way from the moment Mallards slid to 84-8 after being put into bat – but there were plenty of twists and turns before the celebrations could begin.
While their rivals were struggling the leaders were also on the back foot, with Copdock openers Jaik Mickleburgh (73) and Sam Webb-Snowling (40) putting on 88 for the first wicket as the Suffolk side reached 236-9.
It was a tough, although hardly daunting, target but proved well beyond the Swardeston batsmen. A battling 33 from Essex starlet Callum Taylor proved to be the top score as they were bowled out for just 140, with Matthew Wareing taking 6-29.
The title focus then switched to Frinton, where Mallards had made a decent recovery to at least give themselves something to defend. With captain Paul Bradshaw leading the way with an excellent unbeaten 62 the visitors clawed their way up to 153, meaning the win they required was by no means out of the question. But in the end it was not to be, with the hosts getting home by six wickets, despite Bradshaw’s 3-19.
The defeat saw Mallards slip to fourth in the table, two points behind Cambridge Granta, who rounded off their campaign with a win against Bury St Edmunds.