Test duo set to star for Norfolk clubs

John CushionTwo Norfolk clubs have recruited players with Test match experience for the 2010 East Anglian Premier League season.Reigning champions Vauxhall Mallards have boosted their chances of a successful title defence with the acquisition of New Zealander James Marshall, while Fakenham have signed Sri Lankan international Indika de Saram.John Cushion

Two Norfolk clubs have recruited players with Test match experience for the 2010 East Anglian Premier League season.

Reigning champions Vauxhall Mallards have boosted their chances of a successful title defence with the acquisition of New Zealander James Marshall, while Fakenham have signed Sri Lankan international Indika de Saram.

Marshall, 30, replaces Hasantha Fernando as the Brundall club's overseas player for next season and a statement on the club website said: 'James has captained his state side, Northern Knights, to recent success in the New Zealand domestic competition, and it is hoped his experience will help the club defend its EAPL title.

'James will be coaching within the club at all levels, along with working in local schools for the club's Chance To Shine programme.'


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Marshall toured England with the Black Caps in 2008 and played the last of his seven Tests in their six-wicket defeat at Old Trafford that year.

His Test batting average is 19.81, with a highest score of 52 against Sri Lanka in 2005 and he has also played 10 One-Day Internationals, hitting a top score of 161 against Ireland in 2008.

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Although primarily a batsman, Marshall also bowls right arm medium pace and has four first class wickets to his name.

He is the twin brother of Hamish Marshall, who has also represented New Zealand at Test and One-Day International level.

South African Rayno Arendse is also returning to play for Mallards' second XI after a successful 2009 season.

Fakenham had signed de Saram to play at Highfield Lawn last year, but had to call in a replacement when he was called into Sri Lanka's squad for the World Twenty20.

De Saram has plenty of EAPL experience, having enjoyed a prolific spell at Clacton, before a less successful season with Mallards in 2008.

At a meeting of players and supporters at Highfield Lawn, Fakenham skipper Sean Cooper looked back on the first year of a three-year plan and gave a vision of the team competing in the top section of the EAPL with mostly local players.

He said Ben Harvey was returning to the club after a spell at Great Witchingham, while Imran Ali and Sanjaya Rodrigo wanted to play another season and Australian Keegan de Ridder was returning on March 29.

Luke Findlay is also joining from Horsford and Angus Stuart - limited by injuries last season - is expected to be fully fit to bowl. Adam Woodhouse, recovering from a bad leg injury, should be available from mid-season, probably as a batsman for the third or fourth team while he adjusts his bowling action.

Fakenham finished ninth in the EAPL last season, while their second team won promotion as champions from Norfolk Alliance Division Three and Cooper said it had been the club's best campaign for many years. He added: 'We have four players who are currently recognised as senior Norfolk players.

'Our vision is how soon can we get the first team at the top end of the EAPL with just local players. We need a pro, but I think we are one season away from replacing the 'add-on' players with local ones. But success depends upon players' commitment to the club.'

Director of cricket Colin Brassett highlighted the club's plans to develop a crop of promising young players: 'The under-11s won the county title last year,' he said. 'In that team, five to seven boys will be pushing for places in the first team within five to seven years. We have got to give them that opportunity.'

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