Great Witchingham skipper James Spelman desperate to see some action
Great Witchingham skipper James Spelman summed up the frustration of Norfolk's club cricketers when he said: 'We're all getting desperate to play.'
The 28-year-old Norfolk opening batsman said his club had held indoor net sessions – almost unheard of at this time of year – in an effort to prepare for when the rain-ravaged season finally gets into full swing.
Witchingham, last season's East Anglian Premier League runners-up, are due to visit Swardeston tomorrow on the fourth weekend of the league programme, after both clubs had their first three matches washed out.
Swardeston finished third last year and the fixture is the day's one all-Norfolk clash in the EAPL, where all except four matches have been rained off so far.
'It's disappointing because about six or seven weeks ago, in March, it was very dry but what can you do about the weather?' said Spelman.
'The most frustrating thing is it's not just raining at the weekend, but all week, which means you can't even practise properly.
'We try to train twice a week at Great Witchingham but all we've been able to do is put our spikes on and run around and do a bit of fielding practice using rubber balls, because we've not been able to do anything with a cricket ball.
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'Our overseas player, Willie Lonsdale, has not had a decent bowl yet and that's probably true of the overseas players at most clubs.'
Instead, teams have been forced inside to try to get into some kind of rhythm.
'For the last two weeks we've had indoor nets at Taverham Hall School, where Steve Goldsmith is based, and I gather Vauxhall Mallards have been doing the same,' said Spelman.
'I can't ever remember having indoor nets with my club at this stage of the season.
'It's not ideal because conditions are different but at least the batsmen are getting a hit and the bowlers can turn their arm over.
'Only four players in our team have played on grass so far – me, Sam Arthurton, Carl Rogers and Tom Collishaw.
'If we do play this weekend, for the majority it will be their first hit on grass. Normally at this time of the season you've had two or three games and you have an idea how you are going. At the moment, you've not got huge expectations.
'People are getting desperate just to play. It's almost more important to play than to win.
'We've got Horsford in the national knockout on Sunday. You want to win, of course, but if we can come out of the weekend having played two games that will be important.'
Spelman's frustration has extended to county level with none of Norfolk's four MCCA Knockout Trophy matches producing a result.
'Two of their Group Two games were completely washed out, while two started but were abandoned.
Spelman made 35 of Norfolk's total of 181 against Wiltshire at Manor Park on Monday.
'I said when I came in that 180 would be a good score. I felt we had a good chance of winning if we bowled well and that might have been enough to go through,' he said.