Swardeston and Saxlingham cricket clubs are forging a partnership for the 2023 season to provide an innovative and pragmatic solution to challenges both clubs have faced in fielding teams for Saturday league matches.
Under a one-year pilot agreement, Saxlingham players will play for Swardeston in their Norfolk Cricket Alliance (NCA) fixtures and in turn Swardeston have committed to play some league games at Saxlingham’s ground.
Saxlingham will continue to run its Sunday and youth teams in addition to its well-established Gentlemen of Norfolk XI.
The partnership, framed under a Memorandum of Understanding, has been approved by both club committees and also received the approval of the NCA.
Since last season, Saxlingham have accepted the realisation that they would not have enough players to fulfil league fixtures in 2023. For some years Swardeston have faced challenges in fielding 44 players across their four teams every Saturday.
Under the new arrangement Saxlingham will withdraw its team from Division Five of the NCA and players will register for Swardeston, and in the main will appear for Swardeston CEYMS and Swardeston CEYMS A teams in the NCA’s Division Four and Six. In turn, Swardeston have committed to play six matches for the CEYMS and CEYMS A teams at Saxlingham.
The distance between Swardeston and Saxlingham’s cricket grounds is just six miles.
Chris Blincoe from Saxlingham said: “This is an exciting moment for Saxlingham CC and we are thrilled to be entering a new partnership with one of East Anglia’s leading cricket clubs, our close neighbours Swardeston.
“Our beautiful cricket ground is a thriving hub for cricket most days of the week throughout the summer, and players, parents and children alike love visiting us for the combination of beautiful surroundings, great facilities and a thriving social environment. Our own Sunday team and Gents team will continue to compete, as will our two youth teams, and our ground will continue to play host to a variety of county youth, local school and sponsor matches.
“However, like many clubs in recent years, we have struggled for playing numbers on a Saturday, so a partnership with Swardeston offers the perfect opportunity for our members to play some Saturday league cricket together in Saxlingham, whilst providing an excellent pathway into adult cricket for our emerging youth players.
“The partnership is a one-year pilot initially, but Saxlingham shares a common aspiration with Swardeston for a further deepening of the relationship beyond 2023, and we are very excited to see how things develop.”
Swardeston chair Stuart Bartram said: “When we were approached by Saxlingham to consider this partnership we knew it would provide a solution for the challenges we have increasingly faced on player availability for our two lower league teams.
“The discussions have been held in a tremendous spirt and like Saxlingham we are confident this partnership will benefit both clubs and stretch beyond the initial one year.”