Runs flow at Walcis Park as Swardeston are forced to settle for draw
- Credit: Archant
The runs flowed on a cracking wicket at Walcis Park as Great Witchingham and Swardeston fought out a memorable draw in the Read Brothers East Anglian Premier League.
Title-chasing Swardeston put themselves in a position of strength by making an impressive 336-8, with skipper Joe Gatting unbeaten on 148, but almost ended up losing the game as their hosts produced a superb response.
Hudson du Lucchi became the second player to reach three figures as the Witches threatened to pull off an outstanding win - but in the end they were 12 runs short when their overs ran out, which was perhaps a fitting outcome as this was a game that neither side really deserved to lose.
Gatting elected to bat first after winning the toss and featured in a third wicket partnership of 151 with Stephen Gray to put his side in command. Gray eventually departed for 77 but Gatting went on to record a superb century and with the support of Callum Taylor, Peter Lambert and Alfie Cooper set a daunting target before declaring after 60 overs to ensure Witchingham had the same figure for their run chase. Gatting finished with 17 fours and four sixes in his 127 ball knock while there were four wickets for Brett Stolworthy.
Witchingham's response did not start well, with openers Jack Boyle and Sam Athurton both back in the pavilion with just 23 on the board. Sam Groves and James Hale then added 89 before Hale was caught by Gatting off Mark Thomas for 53.
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Groves went one run short of his half century with the score on 189 but by then 18-year-old de Lucchi was starting to find his rhythm and in partnership with Matt Long he went on to register a maiden century in EAPL cricket before falling to a catch by Callum Taylor off Freddie Ruffell for exactly 100.
Long made 40 from just 16 balls and along with Stolworthy (22) got Witchingham close to their victory target before stumps were drawn with the score on 325-7.
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Swardeston picked up 16 points for their efforts and are now just four behind leaders Frinton with six matches left to play. The Essex side lost for the first time this season, crashing to a 160 run defeat at the hands of defending champions Sudbury, who moved up to second place in a congested leaderboard.
Horsford further consolidated fourth spot, 38 points behind Swardeston, after becoming the latest side to inflict a comprehensive defeat on Vauxhall Mallards, who will sadly be folding at the end of the season.
With professional Johnathan Dalton not in the line-up, Mallards were struggling even more than usual on the batting front and were dismissed for just 85, with only James Vann (20) and chairman Paul Bradshaw (19 in 64 balls) making any real impression.
Spinners Ryan Findlay (5-18) and Chris Brown (3-24) had the home side side firmly on the back foot in the final derby game to be staged at Halvergate and an in-form Horsford side went on to seal the win in the 27th over for the loss of three wickets. Opener Luke Findlay saw his side home in the company of Stephan Marillier, whose unbeaten 24 was made up entirely of fours, while Mallards skipper Adam Todd had the commendable figures of 7-5-11-2.
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There are new front-runners in the Premier Division, with North Runcton taking advantage of a slip-up from Fakenham to move two points above them.
Kirwin Christoffels scored 76 and Ben Coote 53 as Runcton made 266-7 in their 50 overs against Norwich and despite a superb 97 from veteran Carl Rogers that proved enough as the visitors finished on 241.
The morning leaders suffered a surprise home defeat against relegation threatened Garboldisham in a desperately tight game which saw the visitors pass their target of 226-5 in the final over with just one wicket left standing.
Form team Cromer are now just 20 points off the summit following a comfortable win over bottom side Dereham. Skipper Frankie Sutton led by example by following up figures of 4-38 with an unbeaten 96 as Cromer chased down 192 in the 32nd over.
Garboldisham's win was bad news for second from bottom Diss but they at least took care of their own business by seeing off Brooke. Diss made 228-8 (Mark Brawn 44, Jebb Swallow 44, Lewis Taylor 40, Sam Clabburn 5-51) and Brooke replied with 198 (Cebo Tshiki 73, Mark Williamson 4-38).
Old Buckenham went marching on at the top of Division One with a 10 wicket win over Lowestoft as openers Matt Bint and Ben Shearing made light of a target of 139. The Bucks are now 33 points clear, but it's bunching up behind them, with Thetford, Sprowston and Acle separated by just five.