Team guide: How Norfolk’s five clubs are gearing up for the new EAPL season

Ashley Watson batting for Norwich against Vauxhall Mallards last season. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Ashley Watson batting for Norwich against Vauxhall Mallards last season. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Ahead of the start of the East Anglian Premier League season tomorrow, here is your guide to the squad changes at the five Norfolk clubs, and their respective captains' hopes for the new campaign.

Great Witchingham

2015 position: Sixth

Captain: James Spelman

New signings: Brenton McDonald, who took more than 50 wickets in 2014, returns to the club. Bowling all-rounder Andy Hanby has arrived from Norfolk Alliance Premier Division Sprowston.


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Captain's thoughts: 'Our main aim is to improve on last year. If we can get off to a good start then there's no reason we can't challenge for a top-three finish. We finished second when Brenton last played for us but last year was a bit up and down for us. 'It was quite a tight league but I know we can do better if our key individuals perform and all of the players contribute lower down the order. When we get on a run we win several games but when we lose we tend to lose two or three in a row. So one of the things we're looking to do is make sure we bounce back quickly if we do suffer a defeat.'

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Horsford

2015 position: Seventh

Captain: Ryan Findlay

New signings: Former Fakenham batsmen Matt Spenceley and Chris Spenceley are joined by two other batsmen, Matt Long (formerly of Old Buckenham) and Sam Pointer (formerly of Norwich).

Captain's thoughts: 'We have recruited well for this season, adding depth to our squad, including the signing of Australian Sam Pointer. We have also retained the services of Stephan 'Zim' Marillier, and HCC 2015 Player of the Year, Ben France, is available for the whole season. 'The club also have a number of promising young cricketers coming through the ranks, who should be pushing for first team places this season.'

Norwich

2015 position: 10th

Captain: Ashley Watson

New signings: Joining from New Zealand club Takapuna, where Aaron Watson has played during the off-season, are William O'Donnell (top order batsman and off-spin bowler) and Ross Ter Braak (opening bowler who played at the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka for New Zealand during the winter but holds a Dutch passport). Will Rogers (opening batsman, 17-year-old son of former Norfolk captain Carl) has also been brought in, having just returned from a tour of Sri Lanka with Northamptonshire, where he has been training with the first team alongside Norfolk players Olly Stone and Rob Newton.

Captain's thoughts: 'The main objective is for us to be looking to get into the top four and potentially giving Swardeston a bit of competition. With their new signing of Joe Gatting they will be very strong again, as they were last year, although they've lost Callum Taylor. 'In the 2014 season Clacton dropped out so no one went down and with no relegation some of the teams didn't want to spend money on an overseas player but because there was relegation last year we've lost Saffron Walden and Sudbury have come up, so it's going to be a tough season for all the clubs, because Sudbury are paying for some good players. 'Frinton-on-Sea have some good players, Andy Northcote has moved from Woolpit to Copdock. We'll also have to see how much Jaik Mickleburgh plays for them, with Alastair Cook with Essex at the start of the season, so they've got a strong side as well.'

Swardeston

2015 position: Champions

Captain: Mark Thomas

New signings: Joe Gatting (batsman, formerly of Sussex and Hampshire, nephew of former England captain Mike).

Captain's thoughts: 'We had quite a good get-together at Wimbledon; the Saturday was cancelled so we only played the T20 on the Sunday. We've got Matthew Taylor and Freddie Ruffell, who have both finished school, so they'll be available every week and I think we've got a strong team. 'A lot of the teams will be strong but hopefully we'll still be there or thereabouts. Having won the title four times in a row people will be wanting to try and beat us but all the teams in every game will expect an even game and three or four could be in with a chance of winning it.'

Vauxhall Mallards

2015 position: Fourth

Captain: Matt Plater

New signings: Luke Caswell (former Norfolk and Horsford all-rounder joins from Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers as club coach, as a mid-order batsman and first change bowler), John Ewart (wicketkeeper-batsman, also joining from AB Wanderers), Neil Clarkson (left-arm spinner who previously played for Liverpool CC).

Captain's thoughts: 'Having come so close to winning the title last year, we're keen to get a good start early season so that we don't have to win the last game to become champions. Last year was very promising and some really good signings have put us in a good position to be very competitive at the top. 'Unfortunately our pre-season tour to Northamptonshire fell through but we've had two days of intense training and middle practice to prepare us for the season.'

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