East Anglian Premier League: Swardeston captain leads from the front

Swardeston captain Mark Thomas. Picture: James Bass

Swardeston captain Mark Thomas. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Swardeston moved to the top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League table for the first time this season after making it five wins on the trot.

The defending champions recorded a seven wicket success at Great Witchingham before a perfect day was completed by a home defeat for morning leaders Cambridge Granta at the hands of an in-form Norwich side.

Skipper Mark Thomas led from the front as Swardeston went 12 points clear at the summit courtesy of a resounding win against the struggling Witches, who are still looking for their first victory of the campaign.

After winning an important toss and unsurprisingly asking the hosts to bat first on an overcast morning, Thomas showed he is still a class act with the ball in his hand as he proved almost impossible to get away, while also taking wickets at regular intervals.

By the time he had finished the skipper had compiled the remarkable figures of 13-10-4-5, with Witchingham being dismissed for just 79 in 44 testing overs. Opener Sam Arthurton top scored with 29 while the quality of the bowling was emphasised late on when his county colleague Sam Groves batted 31 balls for a single.

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With the cloud having dispersed and the sun now out Swardeson made short work of their target, getting home in the 17th over. Joe Gatting fired a swift 44 featuring four fours and four sixes while Jordan Taylor was still there at the end on 27.

Norwich made it four successive victories in equally impressive style at Clare College against a side who were unbeaten before the weekend.

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Again winning the toss was a key factor, but Ashley Watson's side still had to perform well with both bat and ball to get home – and that's exactly what they did.

Watson took 4-46 in Granta's 176, with Doug Rice's 56 the key contribution, and then got home for the loss of just two wickets as Oli Higenbottam (62 not out) carried his bat. Will O'Donnell also did his bit, making 49 as the visitors cruised home with over 20 overs to spare.

Norfolk's other two EAPL sides Vauxhall Mallards and Horsford both drew their games, with one a frustrating near miss and the other an heroic rearguard action.

After reaching 220 Mallards had opponents Bury St Edmunds struggling on 93-5 in reply before a battling 63 from Mike Comber got the Suffolk side back in it. Mallards still had a chance of victory when their opponents slipped to 204-9 with 11 balls left but they were denied by the last wicket pair.

Earlier they had recovered from 130-8 to set a decent target, with Brett Stolworthy (53) and Paul Bradshaw (40 not out) putting on 89 for the ninth wicket.

Bottom of the table Horsford showed there is still plenty of fight in the camp as they shared the spoils with Frinton at Manor Park, despite being on the back foot for most of the day.

With wickets tumbling it soon became clear that Frinton's total of 221 (Mervyn Westfield 59) wasn't going to be overhauled but with Robbie Bridgstock (30 not out) leading the resistance and last man Caleb Futter blocking 11 deliveries they held out for a draw on 124-9.

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