Swardeston chasing national glory again
Swardeston underlined their superiority in the short format of the game as they crushed Horsford by eight wickets to retain the Norfolk Twenty20 Cup at Manor Park.
The national champions appear to have Twenty20 down to a fine art and last night their fielding was sharper than their opponents, their bowling more accurate and their batsmen found the boundary more frequently.
For the second successive year Zimbabwean international Richard Sims, pictured below, scooped the man-of-the-match award as he followed his bowling figures of two for 25 with an unbeaten 52.
Swardeston will now progress to the East Anglian Premier League finals, with the winners there going on to the national stages of the Club Twenty20 competition.
Having been crowned national champions at the Rose Bowl last September, Swardeston look capable of defending their title and skipper Mark Thomas said: 'You've got to believe you can do it, or there's no point entering the competition. Of course it's a big ask, but if we play to our potential I see no reason why we can't do it.'
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Thomas' men strangled the Horsford batting effort to restrict them to 109 for eight and the Swardeston batsmen had few problems reaching that target: 'I think we knew at halfway that 109 was below par,' said Thomas. 'They would probably say themselves that they were 30 short and that they really needed 140 to stand a chance. But with the way we've been batting in the league recently we couldn't take anything for granted – thankfully Simmsy stayed calm and saw us through.'
Horsford chose to bat first and started steadily, with Nathan Perry Warnes squirting the ball through the leg side for the first boundary off the bat in the second over.
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Matthew Warnes was first to go as he drove to George Walker at cover in Sims' first over and Ryan Findlay, having survived a dropped catch at deep fine leg, handed Walker his first wicket in the seventh over as he sliced a catch to backward point.
Horsford were never able to find the necessary acceleration, as Dan Clark was run out by Ian Tufts and Chris Spenceley's ambitious reverse flick failed to clear the fielder at backward point.
Jaden Hatwell was unable to hold a caught and bowled chance offered by Perry Warnes, but in the 12th over the Horsford opener was called for a suicidal single and was run out for 30 from 37 balls to make it 58 for five.
After the departure of Luke Caswell, James Leck showed the required aggression as he dispatched Thomas for three fours in the 15th over and when Matthew Wilkinson connected beautifully with a swept six, a late Horsford charge seemed on the cards.
Wilkinson was stumped in the next over, however, to hand Walker his third wicket and after Leck's innings ended in ugly fashion, the hosts added just 12 runs in the final two overs.
Swardeston openers Sims and Will Rist gave their side a healthy start before Rist had his off stump uprooted by a full delivery from Michael Warnes.
Jaden Hatwell and Sims survived some uncertain running to advance the score to 55 before Hatwell missed a sweep against Horsford skipper Chris Brown and was out lbw.
That brought the hero of Swardeston's Rose Bowl success, Peter Lambert, to the crease, but this time he played second fiddle to Sims. The opener swept Brown over midwicket for six and brought up his 50, from 42 balls, with his fifth four, before Lambert (27no) completed the job in the 17th over.
Norfolk Twenty20 Cup Final
N Perry Warnes run out 30
MR Warnes c Walker b Sims 8
R Findlay c Reynolds b Walker 6
D Clark run out 1
C Spenceley c Reynolds b Walker 1
L Caswell c Walker b Thomas 3
M Wilkinson st Rist b Walker 12
J Leck b Sims 23
MW Warnes not out 8
C Brown not out 6
Total (8 wkts, 20 ovs) 109
FoW: 22, 41, 49, 53, 58, 60, 95, 97
Bowling: M Eccles 4-1-20-0, S Thelwell 1-0-8-0, R Sims 4-0-25-2, G Walker 4-0-15-3, J Hatwell 4-0-16-0, M Thomas 3-0-17-1.
R Sims not out 52
W Rist b Warnes 14
J Hatwell lbw Brown 13
P Lambert not out 27
Total (2 wkts, 16.5 ovs) 111
FoW: 34, 55
Bowling: MW Warnes 3-0-18-1, D Clark 2-0-14-0, N Perry Warnes 1-0-6-0, C Brown 4-0-18-1, R Findlay 2.5-0-23-0, M Wilkinson 4-0-30-0.
Swardeston won by eight wickets