Swardeston hoping for glorious repeat
Swardeston begin the defence of their National Club Twenty20 crown next week, with club stalwart Peter Thomas admitting that he is still dazed by last year's stunning success.
The Norfolk club won the national title at Hampshire's Rose Bowl last September in front of the Sky Sports television cameras. The long journey towards repeating that feat starts next Thursday, when Swardeston play their opening Norfolk Twenty20 Cup match at Manor Park, against Great Witchingham.
Thomas said: 'Winning the competition was like a dream really. We've got a similar side this year, but in my opinion you do need a bit of luck in the Twenty20 format. You look at the final last year and we had Peter Lambert scoring 72 out of a total of 129 – it only takes someone to do that against you and you can lose the game.
'We do have a good balance in the side and we are geared up for Twenty20 cricket, but anything can happen in the shorter format.'
The Norfolk Twenty20 Cup has taken on added significance in the last two years, since the champions have progressed to take part in the national competition.
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With the 60-over Carter Cup suffering problems with teams failing to raise sides, the shorter version of the game appears to be an attractive alternative. Thomas admitted: 'I suppose it is becoming more significant, although I think it's sad that the Carter Cup is struggling. That, to me, is the most important cup competition in East Anglia with its unique 60-over format and it holds a very special place in my heart.
'But the modern game is moving towards the shorter version. Personally, I'm not sure that's a good thing, but from a club point of view, we are defending the national title and it is important to us, so hopefully we can progress again.
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'We have entered to win it, but it will not be easy to just get through the Norfolk stage. We respect all of the other sides in it and as I said, you never know what can happen – we were 24 for four in the national final with our big names gone and that's when Peter Lambert came to the fore.'
The Norfolk Twenty20 Cup, sponsored by NW Brown Financial Services, starts on Tuesday, with Fakenham playing Brooke in the opening match. Acle then play Norwich on Wednesday, with all matches taking place at Manor Park and starting at 6pm.
The Norfolk champions will face the winners of an East Anglian Premier League southern group competition for the right to progress to the area finals in August. Area winners then go through to the regional finals, with the four winners there progressing to the national finals day on Monday, September 19, which this year is due to be held at Essex's Ford County Ground in Chelmsford.
• TWENTY20 FIXTURES
NW Brown Financial Services Norfolk Twenty20 Cup
Tuesday, May 24: Fakenham v Brooke (Group A).
Wednesday, May 25: Acle v Norwich (B).
Thursday, May 26: Great Witchingham v Swardeston (A).
Tuesday, May 31: Vauxhall Mallards v Horsford (B).
Wednesday, June 1: Fakenham v Great Witchingham (A).
Thursday, June 2: Brooke v Swardeston (A).
Tuesday, June 7: Acle v Vauxhall Mallards (B).
Wednesday, June 8: Fakenham v Swardeston (A).
Thursday, June 9: Norwich v Horsford (B)
Monday, June 13: Acle v Horsford (B).
Tuesday, June 14: Brooke v Great Witchingham (A).
Wednesday, June 15: Norwich v Vauxhall Mallards (B).
SF1 Thursday, June 30: Winner (A) v Runner-Up (B).
SF2 Thursday, July 7: Winner (B) v Runner-up (A).
Final: Friday, July 15 (reserve date Friday, July 22).