Sprowston all-rounder Rob Purton looking forward to facing Vauxhall Mallards in Norfolk Twenty20 Cup final next week
Sprowston are gunning for cup glory on four fronts this summer – but for all-rounder Rob Purton, the Norfolk Twenty20 final against Vauxhall Mallards holds added significance.
Purton, 31, spent 11 seasons as a Mallards player and was part of the team that won the inaugural Norfolk T20 Cup in 2005. Tonight he was due to play against Mallards' first team for the first time since leaving the club to join Sprowston at the start of last season, but bad weather has forced the final to be postponed.
It has been rearranged for Friday, July 27 and Purton is looking forward to facing some of his former team-mates: 'I'm pleased it's them,' he said. 'I sent them a text message saying that regardless of who wins, the prize money will be going to a good club.'
That is not to say that Purton will not expect a hot reception from his friends in the Mallards side, among them skipper Paul Bradshaw: 'I'll open the batting and Brads will open the bowling for them so I'm sure he will have something to say,' said Purton. 'I don't see them as much as I used to obviously, but I still follow their results and I went to watch them in the Carter Cup last weekend at Swardeston. Martin Addison (Bradshaw's opening bowling partner) is my neighbour so we still speak regularly.'
Having already beaten East Anglian Premier League sides Horsford and Great Witchingham en route to the final, Sprowston have no reason to fear their opponents: 'Had it been Swardeston in the final we would have felt heavy underdogs, because of the make up of their side and the experience they have in Twenty20 cricket,' said Purton. 'But if we play well we can beat Mallards and I don't think it would be such a massive upset.'
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As well as the T20 final, Sprowston are in the semi-finals of the Carter Cup and the NACO Cup and they have also reached the final of the Mid Norfolk Sunday League's Challenge Cup.
That success has led to the hashtag #cupfever featuring prominently on the club's Twitter account – but Purton is acutely aware they have won nothing yet: 'To win none of the four would be hugely disappointing,' he said. 'I think we've got a good chance of winning two or three of them, but there's no reason why we can't win all four.'
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A cup win – or four – would undoubtedly help Sprowston as they aim to keep the club moving forward following promotion from Alliance Division One in 2010 and a runners-up place in the Premier Division last year: 'With the success we've had in the Twenty20 and the fact we've got a great chance of reaching the Carter Cup final, people are starting to take notice and look at us as a senior side,' said Purton.
'I don't think there are many better clubs in terms of facilities and we run four teams every Saturday and two, sometimes three, on a Sunday.
'Eight or nine of the players in the first team, including myself, started playing cricket as kids at Sprowston and I can't think of too many sides who can say that.'
The cup runs have come at a price, however, as Sprowston have failed to maintain last year's form in the league and currently lie fourth from bottom in the Premier Division: 'There's a real buzz about the club, but of course there's an underlying worry about the league position,' said Purton. 'We've got to make sure we consolidate our place in the Premier Division. If we win the Carter Cup but get relegated it would be a disaster for us.'