Painful end to a great season for Swardeston
- Credit: Archant
The finest victory in the history of Swardeston Cricket Club was within touching distance – only to be agonisingly snatched away.
The south Norfolk villagers were pitched into action in a national final for the second time this season and made a fantastic start to their Royal London Club Championship final.
South Northumberland wicketkeeper Rob Peyton was dismissed for just one from Michael Eccles' third ball of the day, wafting at a speedy delivery and edging to Joe Gatting.
The North East Premier League side lost their second wicket two balls later, Jonny Craigs being bowled by Eccles for a duck to leave his side at one for two and in big trouble.
However, the Bulls had captain Marcus North in next, a former Australia Test player who had played in the heat of Ashes matches. The 37-year-old joined Adam Heather in the middle and the pair put on 72 for the third wicket to steady the innings.
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Eccles had dropped Heather off the bowling of skipper Mark Thomas in the 20th over but was let off the hook two overs later when Jordan Taylor caught North off the bowling of Thomas.
Soon after, in-form 19-year-old Matt Taylor began his nine-over spell – and what a spell it was, with the Northamptonshire second XI player in familiar surroundings at the County Ground.
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He started with South Northumberland at 82-3 and finished with figures of four for 28, with the Bulls on 135 for eight, with Jordan Taylor also taking an excellent run-out from his bowling.
Eccles returned to dismiss their opponents for 159, wicketkeeper Stephen Gray running out Jonny Wightman off the penultimate ball.
It looked a very realistic target but from the moment opener Peter Lambert skied Stephen Humble's opening delivery to be caught, it was all downhill.
Swardeston slumped to eight for three, with star batsman Gatting being dismissed second ball to a swinging delivery from Wightman. Lewis Denmark provided the only real fight with a 48-ball 34 but Thomas's side were bowled out for 84.
It was a painful 75-run defeat but finished a superb campaign which saw a fifth consecutive EAPL title won, as well as the Carter Cup and the Natwest Club T20.