Great Witchingham beat leaders to join thrilling battle for EAPL title

Norfolk player James Hale delivers for Great Witchingham during Saturday's clash with EAPL leaders S

Norfolk player James Hale delivers for Great Witchingham during Saturday's clash with EAPL leaders Sudbury at Walcis Park. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

The race for the Gibbs Denley East Anglian League Premier Division title is shaping up to be the most exciting in years, with the top three teams separated by just three points.

Great Witchingham are now level with Sudbury at the top after an impressive victory over the morning leaders while Swardeston are breathing down their necks in third after having more bad luck with the weather.

The Witches appeared to be struggling to keep pace with the frontrunners a few weeks ago, but two straight wins have changed all that, with Swardeston – through no fault of their own – having picked up 15 points during the same period and Sudbury just 10.

Rain also played a part in Saturday's game at Walcis Park – but it cleared in time for a resumption and the hosts went on to win by seven wickets to set up a fascinating match at Swardeston next week.

After being asked to bat first Sudbury openers Tom Huggins and Keelan Waldock put on 44 for the first wicket before Huggins fell to a catch by Sam Arthurton at slip off the bowling of James Spelman for 32.

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Waldock eventually fell for 30 off 140 balls to James Hale, with Arthurton taking his second catch, while South African Dustin Melton was run out for one with the score on 138.

With dark clouds gathering Darren Batch was unbeaten on 72 when rain forced the players off with what turned to be a final Sudbury score of 158-3 from 51.4 overs.

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With rain continuing for nearly two hours an early tea was taken and when play finally resumed Witchingham were faced with a target of 159 from a minimum off 36 overs.

The Witches got off to a poor start, losing both James Spelman and James Hale cheaply, before Leicestershire Academy player Will Rogers and skipper Sam Arthurton put together what proved to be a match-winning partnership of 123.

Rogers played a super innings of 64 from 67 balls and when he departed with the score on 132 Arthurton (80 not out) guided his side home in the 33rd over in the company of Luke Schlemmer.

With only the games played in Norfolk at the weekend reaching a conclusion Swardeston got in precious little cricket at Cambridge Granta.

A good start, which saw a couple of Tom Oxley wickets reduce the hosts to 37-2, was rendered irrelevant when the rain arrived with less than 10 overs having been bowled.

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