Norwich survive big scare against Swardeston to get hands on Carter Cup

Carter Cup Final 2015 cricket action. Swardeston v Norwich. Winners - Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Carter Cup Final 2015 cricket action. Swardeston v Norwich. Winners - Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norwich withstood a brave fightback from a determined Swardeston side to lift the Carter Cup for the second time in four years yesterday.

Ashley Watson's side eventually won a high-scoring encounter by 45 runs – but only after being given, as Watson admitted afterwards, a real scare by opposition skipper Mohammad Wajihuddin, who scored a superb century to have the underdogs dreaming of a surprise victory.

With Swardeston's first team otherwise engaged in the Royal London Club Championship it was largely a second string side who took to the field for the annual showpiece event of Norfolk club cricket.

However, being ineligible to play in the national competition, Wajihuddin was on a duty at Manor Park, and he certainly led from the front as Swardeston threatened to chase down a daunting total of 335-7.

At 140-5 and needing to score at almost eight an over for a prolonged period, they looked dead and buried. But then the talented overseas star changed the whole complexion of the match as he helped add 96 for the sixth wicket in the company of a cool and composed Ben Shearing.

When Wajihuddin went from 86 to 102 in three balls off the bowling of Sam Pointer, with two sixes and a four, anything looked possible – even when Aaron Watson trapped Shearing leg before for a well-paced 30.

But the key moment of the entire game arrived just three overs later when the Pakistani star tried another big hit off Pointer which appeared to heading over the ropes until Jamie Mirner took a fine catch on the long-off boundary to end a marvellous innings on 125 and effectively secure the win. Swardeston continued to battle away after that hammer blow, adding 40 more runs, but by then the game was up and they were finally dismissed for 290 off the first ball of the 57th over.

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Earlier in the day Watson had called correctly and unsurpisingly opted to bat first on a glorious day. It quickly became evident that it had been a good toss to win.

Norwich's formidable total was built upon the excellent start given to them by openers Pointer and Oly Higenbottam who put on 118 for the first wicket. Sam Thelwell finally made the breakthrough by having Pointer caught by Alex Levinson for 46 but Swardeston then came up against another formidable adversary in the shape of Sanjay Mishra, who also quickly got into his stride.

By lunch Norwich had reached 173-1 from 38 overs and they then built on that after the break, scoring at around seven an over to set a big target.

Higenbottam fell just six short of what would have been a deserved century when he was bowled by Wajihuddin, after the same bowler had Mishra caught for 63. Skipper Ashley Watson was then run out for just four as Norwich slipped to 239-4, but some big hitting from the likes of Chris Borrett and Ben Hutchinson ensured the momentum was maintained.

'It's great to win the Carter Cup again but it was a bit of a scary one,' said victorious skipper Watson afterwards. 'Mohammad Wajihuddin is a quality cricketer and he certainly had us worried for a while – that catch in the deep was a big moment.

'Overall I thought we could have been a bit better in the field – and the lads know that – but they have got us over the line, and that is the most important thing.'

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