New boys Sprowston enjoying the high life

Sprowston skipper Phil Glozier is delighted to see his side flying high as a season which so far comfortably exceeds expectations unravels.

While it is too early to declare unbeaten Fakenham home and hosed, only a monumental collapse will see Ben Harvey's unbeaten Alliance Premier Division pace-setters caught but second place would be no mean achievement for Sprowston if it can be achieved.

'Obviously Fakenham are running away with things because of their strength. But there are are three or four teams chasing of which we are one,' said Glozier, who did not taste defeat during the Division One championship campaign last season and has only lost once (away to Norwich and Coltishall Wanderers) this term.

'Going up to a new division our initial aim was to consolidate, stabilise and make sure we don't get relegated and anything else is a bonus. To be here we are is a good reflection on the club.'

The team has been boosted by the arrivals of big-hitting batsman and swing bowler Simon Chipperfield from Witchingham and spin bowler and top order batsman Rob Purton. Purton, an early product of Sprowston's youth policy, has returned to the club after several years away with Vauxhall Mallards and has played for Norfolk. 'It has given us more experience at the higher level as well as a bit more discipline and stability and as a captain it has given me more options to utilise,' said Glozier, who is in his third season at the helm. 'We have got a number of people playing at Premier Division level for the first time and some of these guys are still finding their feet. We haven't got an overseas player so these two guys coming in has helped to balance things out.'


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The core of regulars from last season has been maintained, with ex-Essex Seconds and former Norfolk player Geoff Roff the quality veteran. Opener John Leverett's rich vein of recent form includes 127 against Stow while Danny Palmer has made solid regular contributions at the top of the order. Purton is the team's other century maker this season with 100 against Brooke.

Swing bowler Ryan Pearce is another feather in the cap for the club's youth policy, as the Norfolk Under 17s bowler has bagged the team's best of the season so far return of 7 for 35 against Vauxhall Mallards A.

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'He has stepped up and played two or three games in the first team.

'He has earned his chance and taken it,' said Glozier.

• FACILITIES BOOST WILL STAND THE CLUB IN GOOD STEAD

Sprowston's step up to the top flight of Norfolk club cricket is being accompanied by a welcome ground facilities upgrade which could help them to secure EAPL cricket one day.

A combination of grants and fund-raising is bringing a new double-bay practice net costing �25,000 and �5,400 worth of roll-on roll-off covers to Barker's Lane in the near future.

The practice net will be a great aid to the renowned coaching programmes which have been turning out home-grown talent to the advantage of club and county for several years.

'It will be a tremendous boost for the youth coaching. On average we are coaching up to 80 youngsters a week,' said club chairman John Murrell.

He is pleased if not surprised by the club's lofty position on their return to the Premier Division which sees them sharing second place with four-times champions Downham – who they entertain in 10 days' time.

'I knew we would survive because I have umpired games at that level and noted that a number of clubs don't have depth in their teams and rely heavily on their overseas professional. We were fortunate enough over the winter to obtain the services of Rob Purton from Mallards who has come in as club coach and Simon Chipperfield from Witchingham. They are both all-rounders who have played in the EAPL and they have made a significant difference. I am not surprised we are where we are.'

Meanwhile the latest ground improvements can only strengthen Sprowston's case should they be in a position to step up to the EAPL.

'We have worked very hard and spent a lot of money on the ground and the facilities,' said Murrell.

'Only time will tell if we move up to the EAPL. We just need to work hard to increase our capabilities.

'It's a big financial commitment and there are a number of players who maybe would not want to play because of work, time or family commitments. You would have to consider the need to strengthen up quite considerably. Also in the EAPL I don't think you would survive without an overseas professional.

'We are very happy with the way the club has progressed. A lot of people have helped us.'

The club's ethos has always been to provide cricket for all and with 10 youth and adult teams the club, which has ECB Clubmark and NCB Focus Club status is doing just that.

There are Saturday teams in Alliance Premier and Division Three and Norfolk League divisions two and five. On Sundays there is Mid Norfolk League, friendly and Under 17 action. There are youth teams at Under 15, Under 13 and Under 11 level.

Throughout the summer the Barkers Lane ground is a hive of constant community activity.

But the story does not stop there. 'We are trying to start a girls section and would be pleased to hear from any that want to get involved,' said John.

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