EAPL cricket: Vauxhall Mallards fire a warning shot in title race

The first full weekend of EAPL action this season saw three out of the four Norfolk teams achieve victories to pile the pressure on pace-setting newcomers Copdock and Old Ipswichians.

Vauxhall Mallards moved level on points with the Suffolk outfit, while outstanding individual bowling performances from Mark Thomas and Luke Caswell saw Swardeston and Horsford move up a rung on the ladder to occupy third and fourth places respectively.

Great Witchingham, who finished runners-up last season, are still looking for their first win of the campaign after being held to a draw by Clacton.

The quickest demolition job of the day was performed by Vauxhall Mallards, who made sure they had plenty of time to prepare for the Champions League final by inserting visitors Halstead at Brundall and then dismissing them for a paltry 50 in the 26th over.

Captain Paul Bradshaw was in particularly mean mood conceding a mere six runs from his nine overs and picking up three wickets while opening pace partner Michael Addison was the other chief destroyer with 4 for 27 from his 10 overs. Mallards lost four wickets in getting the job done but were seen home by an unbeaten 23 from opener David Turner.

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Left-arm seamer Luke Caswell was the Horsford hero with a stunning 8 for 16 return as Saffron Walden, chasing a modest 94 to win, were bowled out for 43 at Manor Park. Tim Smith had earlier taken 4 for 33 as Walden made Horsford work hard for their runs after they decided to bat first.

But the visitors were then tied up in knots as Norfolk recruit Caswell got down to business. After the openers were cleaned out with a run on the board former Australia Under 19 player Glen Batticciotto, unbeaten on 35, was left to survey the wreckage after 22 overs of mayhem.

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Swardeston skipper Mark Thomas reurned his EAPL best figures of 7 for 46 as his side beat Burwell by five wickets. Burwell were 134-4 at lunch but Thomas took five wickets for just two runs after the interval. Burwell lost their last eight wickets for just 32 runs.

In reply Swardeston were 38-2 but Stephen Gray and Peter Lambert took the score to 61 before Gray was dismissed for 25 by a direct hit from the deep from Lawton. Lambert became Marlon Richards second victim on 49.

Ian Tufts and George Walker steadied any nerves knocking off the remaining 55 runs with Tufts unbeaten on 47.

Great Witchingham talisman Carl Rogers, who topped the EAPL run-scoring charts with 1028 last season, resumed normal service with 86 as his side posted 212-7 after deciding to take first use of the Walcis Park pitch against Clacton.

Despite some early encouragement when the visitors were 26-3, the Witches were frustrated by Stefanus Gericke (54), Danny Rock (46) and an unbeaten tailend 34 from Imran Sheik as the seasiders held out for a draw with two wickets in hand.

Copdock and Old Ipswichians drew with reigning champions Cambridge Granta at Clare College while Sudbury won by 183 runs at Bury St Edmunds.

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