Swardeston crowned national Twenty20 champions
- Credit: Archant
Swardeston sealed what they hope will be the first of two national titles when they recorded an emphatic victory in the final of the NatWest Club Twenty20 competition.
The Norfolk trailblazers cruised to a hugely impressive 65-run success against Sandiacre Town under the lights at Derby, with Joe Gatting wrapping things up by claiming three wickets in seven balls without conceding a single run.
It was Swardeston's second win in the competition following their success at Southampton in 2010 and sets them up perfectly for another big game, the final of the Royal London Club Championship against South Northumberland at Northampton on Sunday week.
The East Anglian Premier Division champions, who had earlier beaten Tunbridge Wells in a much closer semi-final, were indebted to a fine unbeaten 69 from Lewis Denmark as they made a solid 148-5 in the final after being asked to bat first.
Mark Thomas' side were in some trouble when they lost three quick wickets to slip to 21-3 but, helped by Gatting (21), Freddie Ruffell (14) and Jeremy Elliott (18 not), Denmark steered them to a position of some strength.
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It was then down to the bowlers and they rose to the challenge in brilliant fashion.
Michael Eccles set the ball rolling by removing both openers, finishing with figures of 2-8 from his four overs, and then his colleagues completed the job as Sandiacre collapsed from 52-3 to 83 all out, with almost four overs unused.
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Denmark also top scored for Swardeston in the semi-finals as they eased past their Kent opponents by 25 runs.
He made 39 from 37 balls as the Norfolk side got up to an impressive 167-9 in their 20 overs, with Jordan Taylor (26) and Gatting (21) the other main contributors. Tunbridge Wells got off to a flying start in reply but were pegged back by an excellent bowling effort, with Thomas taking 3-21, Gatting 2-13, Tom Oxley 2-33 and Eccles 2-38. Their opponents kept battling until the end but were still 25 runs short when they lost their final wicket off the penultimate ball.
Last night's success meant Swardeston had taken full advantage of a reprieve earlier in the competition. They were beaten in the regional final by West Indian Cavaliers, but their conquerors were subsequently thrown out after it emerged that they had fielded an ineligible player.