Norfolk Alliance round-up: Rain comes down as unlucky George prepares for hat-trick ball

Great Witchingham's Brett Stolworthy bowls to Luke Findlay of Horsford during the brief spell of pl

Great Witchingham's Brett Stolworthy bowls to Luke Findlay of Horsford during the brief spell of play that was possible at Walcis Park on Saturday. Sam Arthurton is at slip and Sam Groves behind the stumps. Picture: TIM FERLEY - Credit: Archant

It's not often a bowler gets a chance to pick up a hat-trick - so there was a buzz around Manor Park on Saturday when Dereham's George Pledger struck twice in successive deliveries.

With four balls of his fifth over still to be delivered, and Horsford A struggling on 170-8, the stage appeared to have been set perfectly for the experienced seamer in the Norfolk Alliance Division One encounter.

But as No 10 Jayden Borges prepared to walk out to the crease the rain came down again on what had been a stop start day - and this time there was to be no return, with Pledger cruelly denied the opportunity of making it a weekend to remember. He had to be content with the excellent figures of 4.2-0-17-3, while there will of course be a chance for him to complete a hat-trick of sorts in his next opening spell for Dereham.

It was a day when the weather had a big say in proceedings although there was still plenty of cricket played, with pretty much a three-way split of completed games, abandonments and cancellations.

Horsford and Dereham remain top and third respectively while Thetford moved up to second after claiming their third emphatic victory in the space of eight days. They dismissed a 10-man Bradfield side for 172 at Mundford Road and then took just 26 overs to knock off the runs required to take the threat of rain out of the equation. Only one wicket was lost, with the in-form top three of Liam Conroy (50 not out), Neil Lockwood (32) and Ryan Conroy (62 not out) getting the job done in double quick time.

The only other match played in the second flight was a 20 overs per side affair at Topcroft, who completed a seven wicket win over Beccles with 11 balls to spare after restricting their visitors to 99-8. Ben Baldwin and Greg Roston saw Topcroft home with an unbroken stand of 52.

In the top flight champions Downham Town took over at the top after seeing off Diss while morning leaders Stow were losing for the first time this season at Brooke.

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Downham made 169-6 in a 25 over game (Nathan Green 55 not out, Patrick Yates 52) before limiting their visitors to 83-8 while a Twenty/20 fixture saw Brooke finish on 129-5 in reply 128-7. Ed Landymore made 53 for Stow while Ali Shearer batted all through the home innings, finishing on 54 not out.

Rain severely curtailed the programme at the lower levels of the Norfolk Alliance, with no matches completed at all in Divisions Three and Six.

But a big game game did go ahead in Division Two, with Swaffham seeing off fellow promotion contenders Martham by five wickets to move up to second in the table.

An opening stand of 72 between Jasper Payne (50) and Mark Eagle (39) set the hosts on the road to victory after they had dismissed the Carter Cup quarter-finals for 155 in 44.4 overs.

Brett Colclough (44) and Nobert Barath (35) were the leading scorers for Martham.

It was an extremely frustarting afternoon for Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers, who had agreed to play a 30 overs a side game against Hethersett and Tas Valley because of the time lost to the weather. After posting an excellent total of 168-7 (Tom Harris 45), Wanderers had reduced their visitors to 99-9, with just five deliveries left, when the rain returned to have the final say.

Hockwold went marching on at the top of Division Four as they hammered North Runcton A by nine wickets after bowling them out for 189. Euan Gilmour (82) and Joel Gilmour (104 not out) set up the comfortable victory with an opening partnership of 162.

Snettisham also got a game in and won it comfortably to move up to third. They bowled out Hethersett and Tas Valley A for 175-9 and went on to cruise home by eight wickets. In the runs were Snettisham's Lewis Jeavons (59) and Nick Henry (57) and Valley's Jamie Hipperson (58) and Tristan Henderson (50).

Division Five leaders Cromer A edged past Lowestoft A by five runs after making 211.

The two surviving East Anglian Premier League sides in the Carter Cup have avoided each other in the semi-final draw - and both will have home advantage when the matches are played on July 8.

Vauxhall Mallards will take on Norfolk Alliance champions Downham Town, who knocked out holders Swardeston last week, while Great Witchingham will face Fakenham, who have already beaten two EAPL outfits this summer in Norwich and Horsford. The teams will be battling it out for a place in the last ever final of the historic competition at Manor Park on August 27 (Bank Holiday Monday).

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