East Anglian Premier League: Swardeston go marching on at the top

Vauxhall Mallards batsman Paul Bradshaw survives a vociferous appeal for LBW at Great Witchingham on

Vauxhall Mallards batsman Paul Bradshaw survives a vociferous appeal for LBW at Great Witchingham on Saturday. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

Jeremy Elliott and George Walker played starring roles as Swardeston stretched their lead at the top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League with an impressive 80-run victory at Clacton on Saturday.

Elliott fell nine runs short of what would have been a well deserved century as the visitors bounced back from a poor start to post a testing total of 196 all out. Clacton were always struggling in their reply and after seamers Mark Thomas and Michael Eccles had made the early breakthroughs former Norfolk captain Walker ripped through the tail, recording impressive figures of six for 32 as the Essex side were dismissed for just 116.

Closest rivals Cambridge Granta also won at Sudbury, but picked up fewer points for their efforts, meaning Swardeston's fourth victory in six games took them 11 points clear at the top, with Saffron Walden a further 23 adrift in third position.

Thankfully the miserable weather that would have made any cricket impossible on Thursday and Friday had cleared in time for all Saturday's fixtures to go ahead, although damp outfields made playing conditions far from ideal. Not surprisingly Clacton opted to bowl first against the leaders after winning the toss and soon had them in trouble, with Richard Sims, Stephen Gray and Jonathan Sole going for two runs between them. With Peter Lambert also being dismissed cheaply Swardeston were in all sorts of trouble at 20 for four.

It was then a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man as Elliott led a spirited recovery with a 122-ball 92 that included 13 fours and one six.

By the time he was last man out in the 50th over Swardeston had a decent total to defend and it soon became clear that 196 runs was more than enough. Thomas (three for 40) and Eccles (one for 18), reduced the hosts to 39 for four and then Walker completed the job, his impressive haul including the prize wicket of Thiranko Rajarate (63), the only Clacton batsman to reach double figures.

The Norfolk derby at Great Witchingham was an exciting affair, with the hosts eventually having to settle for a draw after a brave run chase fell just short. Having been put into bat Vauxhall Mallards got off to a steady start, with David Turner (25) and Sam Plater (22) putting on 40 for the opening wicket. But it was tough going after that, with only Ali Shearer (36) and Rahul Dewan (35) making sizeable contributions in the face of some tight bowling, led by South African Stephan Joubert (four for 21).

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Mallards struggled to 152 all out in 42.3 overs – and Witchingham looked well placed as they reached 64 for the loss of just one wicket. But then the balance of the game started to swing as the bowlers got to work and in the end Witchingham fell agonisingly short of their target on 148 for seven, despite some late aggression from Sam Arthurton (44 not out).

Zimbabwean Stephan Marillier was the star man for Horsford as they recorded an emphatic 107-run win over Bury St Edmunds at Manor Park. Marillier made 96 in his side's total of 205 all out – he was stumped going for the big hit that would have brought up a ton – with Luke Caswell (34) and William Bryan (35) providing the main support. Bury were then dismissed for just 98, with Caswell taking three wickets and Tom Whitehouse, Ryan Findlay and Chris Brown taking two apiece.