Mallards find West Indian star too hot to handle

Tom Oxley is congratulated by Swardeston colleagues after claiming the early wicket of John Ratledge

Tom Oxley is congratulated by Swardeston colleagues after claiming the early wicket of John Ratledge during the game against Horsford. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Any thoughts Vauxhall Mallards might have had of easing their way into the new East Anglian Premier League season quickly disappeared on Saturday.

Mallards opened their campaign with a trip to newly promoted Mildenhall – and that meant going head-to-head with a fired-up paceman who was playing international cricket for the West Indies less than three years ago.

What's more it was an immediate introduction, with the hosts choosing to bowl first and Paul Bradshaw's side soon finding themselves in deep trouble at 27-3 as Tino Best announced his arrival in East Anglian by claiming three early wickets.

The 35-year-old seamer ended up with figures of 3-42 as Mallards were dismissed for 230 with five balls remaining of their 50 overs, and Mildenhall overhauled their target for the loss of six wickets.

Norfolk all-rounder Ben France led the Ducks' fightback with 30, while Bradshaw chipped in with 41 at No 9 as they at least gave their bowlers something to defend. But the respectable total wasn't enough, with an unbeaten 97 from Ben Shepperson seeing the hosts home with a degree of comfort.

The opening day of the new campaign saw sides competing in 50-over-per-side games, following a vote for change during the close-season which will see the traditional format taking a back seat until the end of May.

Great Witchingham appeared to enjoy the fresh challenge as they took the points at Bury St Edmunds when batting first, despite failing to bowl the opposition out. The Witches never looked back after openers James Spelman (76) and Sam Arthurton (47) had put on 123 for the first wicket, with James Hale later contributing 66 as they reached 254-8.

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A solid bowling effort then helped restrict Bury to 202-8, with Hale completing an excellent all-round performance with figures of 3-36 and Andy Hanby taking 2-24.

Norwich's season got off to a bad start when they went down by three wickets in a low-scoring game at Frinton. The visitors were dismissed for just 110 in the 33rd over, wicket-keeper Lewis Sexton top scoring with 33, and returned home empty handed despite a decent bowling effort that saw skipper Ashley Watson take 4-26 as Frinton edged home.

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