Pressure on Mallards in Norwich derby

Vauxhall Mallards skipper Paul Bradshaw admits his side probably need victory more than Swardeston in this weekend's big derby game.

Vauxhall Mallards skipper Paul Bradshaw admits his side probably need victory more than Swardeston in this weekend's big derby game.

Mallards currently lie third in the East Anglian Premier League table, 22 points behind leaders Swardeston, who have a 100pc record in the competition this year. And Bradshaw is aware that tomorrow's game could have a big influence on whether Mallards are able to challenge their Norfolk rivals for the title.

He said: "To a certain extent the game is more important for us because if they were to win on Saturday, they would be 40 to 45 points clear of us and that is a big gap to try and catch up. If we win, though, it puts us on more of an even keel."

And while there is plenty at stake between two of Norfolk's most dominant cricketing forces, Bradshaw insists that relationships between the sides remain good.

"There are no problems," he said. "I played my youth cricket with their captain, Mark Thomas, so I've known him a lot of years. Most of the players will stop and have a beer after the game so there is no real animosity there, although there is of course a big rivalry."

Bradshaw himself is unlikely to figure tomorrow because of a hamstring injury which restricted him to bowling just one ball in last Saturday's win over Norwich.

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He said: "It's just a case of making sure I don't do any more damage. The physio is quite confident that with a bit of rehab and strength building I'll be back to full fitness very soon. Hopefully a week's rest will give me ample time to be fit for the following week."

Regardless of their captain's presence, Mallards must work out a plan for Swardeston's in-form New Zealander Jaden Hatwell, who is averaging 92.5 from his first three league innings. Bradshaw warned: "He is in good form, but he's one of a number of wickets in their side we'll be targeting.

"Just to get him out will not be enough because they have other batters who can do a job. He is a danger but you can't relax if you get him out early."

Mallards' own import, South African Rob Frylinck, has impressed Bradshaw. The captain said: "He's started very well and he's fitted in with no problems. He's probably bowled a lot better than the number of wickets he's taken shows and when he bats he hits the ball very hard.

"He's just got to make sure that he's not getting out for flashy 40s and is going on to make big scores."

The other local derby this weekend is an equally fascinating clash between Fakenham and Great Witchingham. Newly-promoted Witchingham started well this season with an opening-day win, but have lost their last two games with indifferent batting displays. That has also been the problem for Fakenham, who have failed to reach three figure totals in two of their three defeats so far.

Horsford host reigning champions Bury tomorrow, while Norwich travel to Godmanchester.