Norfolk Cricket Alliance preview: Sprowston hope Australian ace Matt Foster will help them make the next step up

Sprowston's new overseas player, Matt Foster.

Sprowston's new overseas player, Matt Foster. - Credit: supplied

Sprowston have finally bowed to the inevitable and recruited an overseas player – and skipper Simon Chipperfield believes it will help them make the next step up.

The Barkers Lane club were proud to buck the trend of employing a star player from abroad, but after two seasons in the Premier Division, they could resist the temptation no longer.

Australian Matt Foster, a 20-year-old all-rounder from New South Wales, has joined the ambitious club, who host newly promoted Cromer tomorrow.

Chipperfield said: 'The league is up for grabs this year with various players leaving other clubs and I think there will be five or six teams in the mix.

'Getting an overseas player gives the club the chance to move forward. We have also appointed a director of cricket and everything is in place now for the club to progress to the next level.'

Opposition bowlers will have good reason to fear their trips to Brundall, as former Norfolk opener Carl Amos has dropped down into Vauxhall Mallards' second team.

Australian all-rounder Matthew Hague is the overseas player, while Ryan Pearce has joined from Sprowston.

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'The team are itching to get out there and improve on last year's sixth-placed finish,' said skipper Matthew Seager.

Downham's spell of dominance in the Premier Division has been broken by the arrival of Fakenham and Norwich in the last two years – and skipper Duncan Lanchester believes the league is only getting stronger.

Lanchester's men won their fourth consecutive title in 2010, but have seen clubs relegated from the EAPL claim top spot in each of the last two seasons.

Downham face the toughest possible start tomorrow when they travel to champions Norwich and Lanchester said: 'We're aiming to get off to a decent start and the idea is to see where we are at the halfway point. We'll assess it then and see if we're still in contention and can have a decent go at it.

'There's some very good sides in the league. It's one of the strongest about.'

Nineteen-year-old Australian Brenton Wright, a left-arm spinner who can also bat, has replaced Harry Evans as the overseas player and former Norfolk player Paul Harwood has vacated the captaincy at Narborough to join Downham.

Stow have yet to finalise arrangements for an overseas player, but are hoping to bring someone in before the end of May. Skipper Keith Thomson said: 'We've got a few ideas in the pipeline. It's not ideal having a player miss the first month to six weeks. But it's not through lack of effort and we are working to a budget.'

They have picked up a trio of Sandringham players – seam bowler Lloyd Richmond, spinner Ben Melton and all-rounder Ian Perrin.

North Runcton's plans to bring back South African Christo van Schalkwyk were scuppered at the last minute, so they have turned instead to Australian all-rounder Jamie Marslen. He will miss tomorrow's match against Mallards but should arrive in time for next weekend's game.

All-rounder Ben Allsop has also returned to the club from Wisbech, as Runcton aim to cope with the departure of Norfolk seamer Kieran Bunting.

Skipper Andrew Barrett, in his second season at the helm, said: 'Obviously losing a player like Kieran will be a huge loss for us. You don't get selected to play for Norfolk if you are not a quality player. While I'm of course disappointed to see him leave, he goes with both my own, and the club's blessing, and I wish him nothing but the very best.'