Future is bright for Norfolk

It has been another week of success for Norfolk's flourishing youth cricket scene.

In addition to the county age group sides continuing their excellent form, Swardeston's U15s have reached the regional finals of the NatWest U15 National Club Championship.

The positive results have delighted the Norfolk Cricket Board's cricket development manager, Kieron Tuck, who said: 'It's very satisfying to see the success of the age group sides. In particular the Under-14s have been very successful and are one of our strongest age groups with some very talented players.

'Across the board it does look very healthy and that is in no small part down to the excellent coaches we have, led by Chris Brown, and the volunteer team managers who put in a tremendous amount of work. I'd like to think that the money and guidance that the board provides plays its part as well. We have the player pathway now so that if someone wants to progress all the way up to first class cricket, the system is in place.'

Tuck also paid tribute to the work of one of his predecessors, Godfrey Batley, adding: 'He had a major part in setting up the youth structure and we have developed what he laid down. It is something we prioritise as a board and we spend a lot of time and money trying to help these players progress.'

Swardeston's Under-15s are on course to emulate the club's national Twenty20 heroes after beating Dean CC, from Huntingdonshire, in the midlands semi-finals of the NatWest U15 National Club Championship on Sunday.

Swardeston's first team won the national Club Twenty20 crown last September and have already retained the Norfolk trophy this summer – and their success looks to have rubbed off on the U15s.

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After being put into bat against Dean, Swardeston lost both openers early on. Jason Reynolds and Lewis Gooderham moved the score on to 44 before Gooderham was needlessly run out in the ninth over.

Wickets continued to tumble, but Reynolds held firm to make 45no, including six boundaries, as Swardeston were all out for 90 with more than three overs unused.

The performance in the field was much sharper and Dean were soon in trouble at 13 for two. They were behind the run rate at the halfway stage, having reached 32 for two and Oliver Charlish took the crucial wicket of Lane, who had looked the only Dean batsman comfortable with the run chase.

The other batsmen struggled to get Swardeston's accurate bowling away and Matt Taylor picked up three late wickets to seal a 26-run victory in the 19th over.

Swardeston now progress to the midlands regional finals, at Leamington CC on Thursday, where they will be hoping to book a place in the national finals at Kibworth, Leicestershire, on August 24.

n Lewis Denmark fired an unbeaten 125 for Norfolk Under-17s as they beat Scotland at Garboldisham by seven wickets in their latest ECB Championship match.

The Scots won the toss and chose to bat, with Norfolk having to work hard to bowl the visitors out for 318. Will Dunger was the county's leading bowler with three wickets.

The Norfolk openers survived the final six overs of the first day and batted on for an hour on the second morning, before Elliot Brown departed for 14.

Ben Spinks and Denmark added 173 for the second wicket, before Spinks fell for 83, quickly followed by Robbie Bridgstock. Norfolk went on to win comfortably, with Joe Larter making 50no.

Squad manager Steve Goldsmith said: 'Denmark's innings was of the highest class, with great driving and cutting. He showed determination and self control to see the game all the way home.'

n Norfolk U13s' spinners and opening batsmen played key roles as the county recorded back to back wins.

First they travelled to Valentines Park, Ilford to face London Schools.

Luke Holland took his first wickets for the county, finishing with three for 21 and there were also three victims for Yash Kalkani as London Schools were bowled out for 108.

Norfolk openers Sam Hunt (48no) and Chris Read (44) put on 88 for the first wicket and the target was reached with 20 overs to spare.

Next up were Suffolk at Saham Toney, where Norfolk again bowled first. Rory Olpin (three for nine), Kalkani (two for 15) and Read (two for seven) helped dismiss Suffolk for 88.

Hunt and Read produced another good stand of 48 before Read went for 23. Hunt (40no) batted through to steer Norfolk to a comfortable win.

n Norfolk Under-14s are gunning to reach the finals day of the ECB County Cup when they host Kent at Saham Toney this Sunday.

The county youngsters currently top Group Four, having won all five of their completed matches this summer, with two fixtures having been abandoned.

Victory against Kent would guarantee a place in the finals at Oakham School, Leicestershire, on August 16 and 17. Because of their strong showing last year as well, the team have been placed in the top U15 division for 2012 with Middlesex, Kent, Essex and Surrey.