There was a curious delayed start and a disappointing early finish at Manor Park yesterday as Swardeston comfortably retained the Carter Cup.
The holders cruised to a 10 wicket victory over a misfiring Norwich side after bowling them out for just 112 on a wicket that required attention before the action could get under way.
With the sun beating down on a glorious day the weather could hardly have been better for the 49th annual showpiece – but the umpires and both captains felt the pitch needed to be cut and prepared before any cricket could be played.
That led to the final starting at 11 rather than 10.30am, with Norwich skipper Will O’Donnell opting to bat first after taking a good look at the newly tended playing surface.
To be fair there were no major problems with the pitch once the game started and it was a mixture of indifferent shots, excellent bowling and an early run-out that led to a distinctly below par score.
Norwich pressed the self destruct button early on when Oli Higenbottam was run out when responding to an optimistic call for a single, and it wasn’t long before they had slumped to 5-3, with Aaron Watson caught and bowled by Michael Eccles and Chris Borrett snaffled in the slips off Tom Oxley.
After a brief respite Lewis Sexton, Patrick Sheridan and Jamie Mirner also went in quick succession to leave Norwich in desperate trouble at 45-6 and it was only then that they started to make a game of it.
Young New Zealander O’Donnell had survived the carnage and together with wicket-keeper Jason Blake he set about the tough task of attempting to repair the early damage.
Together they took the score up to 94 with some attractive strokeplay and it might have been interesting had they seen it out until lunch. But off what proved to be the final ball of the morning O’Donnell was caught in the slips off Freddie Ruffell – and any realistic chances of posting a defendable target had disappeared.
Swardeston quickly wrapped the innings up after lunch, with Oxley bowling two tailenders to finish with the excellent figures of 8.5-3-18-3 as Blake finished unbeaten on 31.
The run chase appeared to be a simple one and that’s exactly how it turned out as Swardeston openers Jordan Taylor and Jason Reynolds got down to work. The pair scored 20 boundaries between them to reach their target off the first ball of the 18th over, with man-of-match Taylor finishing unbeaten on 69 and Reynolds 38.