Article courtesy of EDP Sport.
By Chris Wise.
Swardeston suffered a heartbreaking near miss in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League on Saturday as their rivals got the victory they needed to finish top.
Leaders Sudbury simply had to win their final fixture against struggling Norwich to ensure they finished ahead of their long-time challengers, and they duly made it back-to-back titles by recording an emphatic 123 run success.
Swardeston fulfilled their part of the bargain by seeing off Horsford at The Common but they had started the day one point behind and so, after a gruelling, 22-match campaign, they missed out by the narrowest of margins possible – despite winning their last eight games.
The favour required at Friars Street rarely looked like happening, with Sudbury in command from the word go against a Norwich side who knew an unlikely win would see them avoid the end of season play-offs.
After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Sudbury passed three figures without loss, with openers Adam Mansfield (108) and Tom Huggins (76) setting a solid platform that helped them all the way up to 327-6 in their 50 overs. That was always going to be a tall order for Ashley Watson’s side and despite a superb effort from opener Jack Newby they didn’t get anywhere near their target, being bowled out for 200 in the 38th over.
Newby scored more than half of those runs, with a sixth ton of the season – an excellent 105 – taking his final tally for 2018 up to 1,233 at an average of over 77. He had some support from Will O’Donnell, who made 48 in a second wicket partnership of 92, but the Watson brothers Ashley (17) and Aaron (15) were the only other Norwich players to get more than two runs as Sudbury wrapped up the title with the minimum of fuss.
That result meant Norwich needed Bury St Edmunds to lose at Frinton to avoiding finishing bottom and going into the play-offs – and there was no happy ending in that one either. In a match played over 40 overs Frinton’s total of 211-6 was made to look distinctly average as Bury openers Hugh Stanton and Murray Commins knocked off the runs required inside 33 overs.
There were also 10 fewer overs, and an early start, at The Common, with Swardeston travelling up to Derby for the national Twenty20 Finals immediately after the game. Led by Mark Thomas in the absence of the unwell Joe Gatting, the hosts made a solid 250-9 after being asked to bat first, with opener Jordan Taylor top scoring with 73 and Peter Lambert (43), Kevin Denmark (42) and Jason Reynolds (35) all making useful contributions.
Stephan Marillier smashed 66 in 54 balls in reply, while Luke Findlay made 56, but Horsford fell well short on 205.
Vauxhall Mallards finished a tough campaign on a high note by picking up the win they needed to guarantee a place in the EAPL for another season. They bowled out visitors Mildenhall for 191 and then knocked off the runs required for the loss of just two wickets, with almost 15 overs to spare. Matthew Austin and Nic Smit both made unbeaten half centuries for Mallards, while Ben France also passed 50 in an assured batting display that followed some excellent work with the ball from Smit (4-29), Adam Todd (2-23) and France 2-36).
Great Witchingham were involved in an entertaining mid-table battle at Cambridge Granta which saw the visitors edged out by five runs. Chris Benjamin played a top class innings of 166 not out that contained 27 fours and two sixes in a Granta total of 297-8. Mallards’ response was a spirted one but the task proved just beyond them despite good knocks from Mike Jones (93), James Spelman (59) and Brett Stolowrthy (51).