Smith steers Fakenham to survival

Michael Smith was the toast of five Norfolk clubs on Saturday after a captain's innings which brought Fakenham a convincing victory in their Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League play-off at Sudbury.

Michael Smith was the toast of five Norfolk clubs on Saturday after a captain's innings which brought Fakenham a convincing victory in their Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League play-off at Sudbury.

Fakenham had to beat the Two Counties Championship winners to preserve their EAPL status. And they did so by seven wickets thanks to Smith's first century in two seasons as skipper - an unbeaten 120.

That was also good news for Swardeston (runners-up in Alliance Division One, Bradenham (second in Division Two) and Mundford (Division Three), all of whom will be promoted as a result of Fakenham staying up.

It also means a stay of execution for Ashmanhaugh, who finished third from bottom in Division Three and would have gone down if Fakenham had lost.


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Fakenham chairman Martin Turner revealed that Smith's perfectly-paced innings was a case of a captain living up to his own words after telling his team they were perfectly capable of bettering Sudbury's total of 271 for nine - even though they would have to get their biggest total of the season to do so.

“In his team talk before they went out to bat Michael said that the runs were gettable and that if they applied themselves they would only get themselves out,” he said. “It worked out exactly as he said.”

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Smith received impressive support from two 19-year-olds, Ben Harvey (42) and Steven Gray (44 not out).

As a result the team which finished bottom of the table were able to celebrate as if they had won the title.

“This means everything to us,” said Turner. “We were dreading Saturday if we'd lost. As a club we would have carried on - but no player wanted to go back to playing in the Norfolk Alliance. I don't know how many, if any, we'd have lost - but it is a question we would have had to ask after the game. We hope now we can build from here.

EAPL Play-off

Sudbury

P Siergery b Cooper30

J Phillips c-b Barry68

G Hurrell lbw Crane33

D Bradmore st Gray b Smith56

A Younger b Crane4

S Witham b Slegg8

M Pears not out36

A Simmons lbw Smith0

G Robbins b Smart0

J Coone c Blaza b Cooper3

Extras33

Total (9 wkts)271

Bowling: B Smart 7-0-60-1, I Slegg 10-1-44-1, S Cooper 9-0-52-2, A Woodhouse 1-0-13-0, M Smith 10-0-29-2, C Crane 10-0-44-2, N Barry 3-0-23-1.

Fakenham

S Cooper lbw Simmons6

P Dunger c Phillips b Bradmore31

M Smith not out120

B Harvey b Pears42

S Gray not out44

Extras31

Total (3 wkts)274

Bowling: N Moulton-Day 9.4-0-76-0, D Bradmore 9-2-33-1, A Simmons 10-3-37-1, G Robins 10-1-37-0, J Coone 3-0-27-0, M Pears 7-0-53-1.

Fakenham won by 7 wkts

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