Swardeston forced to settle for draw in EAPL derby match

Swardeston's Stephen Gray clears the ropes during Saturday's EAPL derby against Great Witchingham at

Swardeston's Stephen Gray clears the ropes during Saturday's EAPL derby against Great Witchingham at Walcis Park. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

Two Great Witchingham batsmen recorded centuries against Swardeston on Saturday - but it still wasn't enough to condemn the defending EAPL champions to a first defeat of the season.

Mike Jones (113) and James Spelman (112) were star performers as the Witches marked the return to all-day cricket – or proper cricket as it has been described in some quarters – by posting an impressive 295-7 in 55 overs.

It was a challenge that Swardeston rose to in impressive fashion, however, and after much ebbing and flowing a fascinating match ended with honours even, with the visitors finishing 18 runs short of their target with nine wickets down.

The Witchingham innings got off to a disastrous start, with Sam Arthurton trapped leg before first ball by Freddie Ruffle.

When South African Luke Schlemmer was caught at slip by Peter Lambert off the bowling of Ruffle it was starting to look ominous but an excellent partnership of 190 between Spelman and Jones changed the game. Jones made 113 with 14 fours and five sixes while Spellman continued to anchor the innings and was finally out with one over to go with the score on 290. His innings lasted 178 balls and included 14 fours.

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The innings concluded after 55 overs following an interruption for heavy rain, lightning and thunder, with Ruffle finishing with three wickets and Joe Gatting two.

After the early loss of Lambert, Jason Reynolds and Stephen Gray put on 118 for the second wicket for Swardeston before Reynolds (59) fell to a good running catch in the deep by Andy Hanby off Schlemmer.

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Hanby then deceived Gatting into a mistimed pull that went straight to Jones at mid-off and Gray finally went to a catch by Ben Briggs off the bowling of Schlemmer for an excellent 84 off 100 balls. By the time Hanby had removed Norfolk pair Lewis Denmark and Jordan Taylor it appeared Witchingham were in the driving seat, but this was the cue for Jeremy Elliott to play an excellent cameo of 49 from 29 balls. After he went Swardeston needed 18 from the last over but when Matt Taylor went first ball skipper Mark Thomas blocked out the remaining five to make sure Swardeston got the losing draw.

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