Champions Swardeston suffer a rare off day

Cricket action from the East Anglian Premier Cricket League between Norwich CC and Vauxhall Mallards

Cricket action from the East Anglian Premier Cricket League between Norwich CC and Vauxhall Mallards. Ashley Watson batting for Norwich CC.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Champions Swardeston slid to an emphatic defeat as Norfolk rivals Vauxhall Mallards and Great Witchingham got their campaigns up and running with well deserved derby victories.

Having won their opening two fixtures in impressive fashion Mark Thomas' side were brought down to earth with a bump by Cambridge Granta, who romped home by nine wickets at Clare College.

Mallards and Witchingham had made far less impressive starts to their league season but will now feel they are moving in the right direction after recording comfortable away wins at Norwich and Horsford respectively.

Swardeston found runs difficult to come by after being put into bat by a side who had also won their opening two matches, and had to work hard to get past the 200 mark.

A useful knock of 49 from No 6 Jason Reynolds helped the visitors grind out a respectable total, with Stephen Gray (34) and Lewis Denmark (31) also doing their bit.

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To stand a realistic chance of forcing a win Swardeston needed an early breakthrough, but Granta started solidly and eventually cruised to victory for the loss of just one wicket, with Douglas Rice making an unbeaten 110.

With morning leaders Saffron Walden losing to Copdock and Ipswichian the Cambridge outfit are now the only side with three wins out of three and are 12 points clear at the top of the embryonic table.

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Saffron Walden are second on 63 points, with the defending champions a further four back.

Devon Conway continued his dream start to the East Anglian Premier League campaign to help Mallards to an eight-wicket victory over Norwich at Ingham.

Ashley Watson made 60, and featured in useful partnerships with Sanjay Mishra (29) and Ben Hutchinson (22), but an all-out total of 179 never looked likely to be enough as Paul Bradshaw (4-39) and Conway (3-25) got to work.

Mallards had little difficulty in chasing down the target, with Matt Plater and Harry Barker providing a solid foundation before an unbroken third-wicket stand of 98 between Conway (70 not out) and Brett Stolworthy (38 not out) saw them home.

Conway arrived in Norfolk from South Africa with a big reputation and is certainly living up to the hype, having scored 285 runs in his first three innings while being dismissed just once.

The game between Horsford and Great Witchingham was a little closer, with the Witches eventually getting home by five wickets.

Runs proved difficult to come by at Manor Park as Horsford moved slowly to 157 all out in 61 overs. Norfolk skipper Chris Brown top scored with a patient 44 while the star of the show for the visitors was their new overseas player Johannes Diseko, who only arrived in the country from South Africa on Tuesday.

The left-arm off-spinner quickly adapted to the new conditions, bowling superbly to take 5-28 in 18 accurate overs as Horsford struggled to make progress.

Witchingham were indebted to county star James Spelman as they got home in the 54th over.

The opener followed up his useful bowling figures of 2-32 with a watchful 74 in 141 balls and when he went his brother Jonathan saw the Witches home with an unbeaten 21 that spanned 76 deliveries.

Mallards moved up to seventh in the table as a result of the win, with Witchingham up to ninth – just behind Norwich – after their success.

Horsford have picked up just 21 points from their opening three fixtures and only Burwell are below them in the standings – although early May is obviously no time to start panicking!

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