East Anglian Premier League review: Reigning champions Swardeston get off to winning start

Action from the Horsford V Bury St Edmunds East Anglian Premier League cricket match. Bury St Edmund

Action from the Horsford V Bury St Edmunds East Anglian Premier League cricket match. Bury St Edmunds bowler, Justin Bishop, bowls to Horsford batsman Chris Brown. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Swardeston's bid to win an unprecedented fourth successive East Anglian Premier League title got off to an excellent start on Saturday when they came through a tough challenge at Burwell.

The hosts gave Mark Thomas' side plenty to think about when they batted well to set an imposing target of 289-9, with some useful runs down the order boosting their total.

But, as is so often the case, Swardeston proved themselves to be up to the task, getting home with five wickets to spare in the 52nd over to send out a clear message to their title rivals.

After being asked to bat Burwell performed steadily to get past the 200-mark before a brisk eighth-wicket partnership of 65 between Alex Scully and Josh Vowden took them up towards 300.

Michael Eccles (3-63) and George Walker (3-79) both got their campaigns off to a decent start – but there was still plenty for the batsmen to do and Stephen Gray and Lewis Denmark were the men to play a starring role.

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Coming together on 57-2 the pair put Swardeston in the driving seat with a third-wicket partnership of 128, with Gray making 74 and Denmark 66, and when they went Jeremy Elliott was there to see his side over the line with an unbeaten 57.

Swardeston were the only Norfolk winners on a bright and breezy opening day, with Great Witchingham and Horsford drawing and Vauxhall Mallards and Norwich tasting defeat.

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The Witches had the better of the game at new boys Frinton-on-Sea, with Norfolk star Sam Arthurton producing the individual performance of the day, only to come up frustratingly short in a thrilling finish. Thomas Kuggeleijn, a new face from New Zealand, marked his debut with a couple of wickets as Frinton made 273-7 and it was then time for Arthurton and his fellow county batsman James Spelman to take centre stage. They put on 155 for the first wicket and when Spelman went for 81 his colleague kept piling on the runs, although it wasn't quite enough as time ran out with Witchingham three short of their victory target on 271-2. Arthurton finished unbeaten on 145, a 177-ball knock that included 17 fours and three sixes.

Horsford also went close to victory at Manor Park, despite being restricted to 211 by Bury St Edmunds. Stephan Marillier led the way with 59 in 79 balls while new boy Tom Binks and Chris Brown provided valuable late runs with a seventh-wicket partnership of 73. Bury finished on 169-9, with three late wickets making for an exciting finish. Ben France (4-40) was the pick of the Horsford bowlers.

A dream start for South African batsman Devon Conway was not enough to prevent Mallards from sliding to a five-wicket defeat at Cambridge Granta. He contributed 90 to a total of 227 but it was not enough, despite another promising first appearance from seamer Zashan Arshad, who picked up three wickets.

Ashley Watson shone with both bat and ball for Norwich as they went down to Saffron Walden by 52 runs at Postwick.

The all-rounder took 3-76 in a total of 252-7 for the visitors and then contributed 55 as Norwich were dismissed for 200. Russell Emmanuel also made a half century for the home side.

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