Hardingham Cricket Club make encouraging start to new life in Norfolk League

A familiar face in action at the home of Norfolk cricket as former county captain Chris Brown turns

A familiar face in action at the home of Norfolk cricket as former county captain Chris Brown turns his arm during Horsford's win over Vauxhall Mallards last week Picture: TIM FERLEY - Credit: Archant

Hardingham have put the disappointment of losing their Norfolk Alliance status behind them by making an excellent start to the new campaign.

Great Witchingham's Andy Hanby on the attack during Saturday's thrilling match at Swardeston, who w

Great Witchingham's Andy Hanby on the attack during Saturday's thrilling match at Swardeston, who won by one run Picture: TIM FERLEY - Credit: Archant

The village club, now plying their trade in the second tier of the Norfolk League after falling foul of Alliance rules regarding youth cricket, have won all three games so far.

Dan Kelly (4-15), Sam Palmer (46) and Chris Sparkes (37) were the stars on Saturday as they beat Garboldisham B by five wickets to move 18 points clear at the top of Division 2W.

Skipper Glenn Sheehan says morale has remained high at the club despite their exit from Division Four of the Alliance after a fourth placed finish last year.

"We are just trying to work our way back and it has been a good start," he said. "We lost a couple of players during the close season (Brendan Scott and Geoff Turner) who didn't want to drop to a lower level, something we fully understood. But everyone else has stayed and there is a really good spirit around the club."

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Hardingham's failure to run a youth side prompted their relegation, as it did to Saxlingham before them, but that particular club is now back in the Alliance and that remains the target for Sheehan's team.

"Obviously we knew the rules but it has always been difficult for us because there are not that many children of the right age in the village," he said.

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"The other problem we have is that there are several clubs close by, like Great Melton for instance, who have very strong youth sections and the youngsters in the area tend to go there. But it is something we will keep working on."

Hardingham are one of three teams who are no longer part of the current Norfolk Alliance set-up after competing in 2018.

Saham Toney quit at the start of the season due to a lack of players, with the club now running one team in the Norfolk League, while Vauxhall Mallards A pulled out for the same reason this week after successive concessions.

Alliance chairman Peter Thomas said: "It was with regret that we received official notification on Monday morning that the NCA had lost another one of its long established teams. Losing Saham Toney just before the start of the current season was a blow to the league and now to lose Vauxhall Mallards A on top of that it saddens me deeply."

Club Twenty20

Swardeston came through the area qualifier for the Royal London Club Twenty20 Championship after edging past Horsford in an exciting final.

Chasing a testing target of 159-8 Swardeston won with three balls to spare as opener Jordan Taylor saw his side home by five wickets with an unbeaten 69.

Both semi-finals were settled with less drama. Swardeston cruised home in the 13th over after restricting Great Witchingham to 83-7 while Horsford beat hosts Vauxhall Mallards by 40 runs after making 153.

Mallards will be aiming to put what has been a testing week behind them on Saturday when they take on Swardeston at Halvergate while Great Witchingham play host to Bury St Edmunds and Horsford travel to Burwell and Exning. After an early series of limited over games the East Anglian Premier League reverts to its traditional format at the weekend.

Youth cricket

Norfolk Under-12s came back from the brink to beat Kent by one wicket in their latest match at Hollingbourne CC.

On a tricky pitch the hosts battled back from 59-5 to make a competitive 155-7, with two wickets apiece for Sam Reynolds and Amos Coates.

Norfolk slipped to 88-8 in reply but Adam Robson (37 not out) and Coates then added 35 before a last wicket stand of 33 between Robson and Sushant Singh saw the visitors reach their target with 10 balls to spare.

Senior cricket

Norfolk Over-50s began their campaign with a nine wicket defeat against Northamptonshire at Diss. Having been asked to bat first Norfolk collapsed to 29-7 before edging their way to 85 in the 43rd over. This was never going to be enough and Northants reached the target in the 25th over.

The Over-60s travelled to Copdock to play Suffolk, who made 201-7 in the face of some tight bowling.

Norfolk's reply got off to a bad start when Peter Coote fell first ball but Robin Yates and John Lund then put together a fine partnership of 144 before Lund fell for 60. Yates was joined by Clive Bennett and with some big hitting they saw Norfolk home in the 44th over.

Yates finished with an excellent 104 not out and Bennett 26 not out.

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