Thomas keen to play down clash of titans
Swardeston skipper Mark Thomas insists it is too early to label tomorrow's top of the table clash at Bury as a title decider.Thomas' side are 10 points clear of the reigning champions and victory tomorrow would put Swardeston firmly on course for their first EAPL title.
Swardeston skipper Mark Thomas insists it is too early to label tomorrow's top of the table clash at Bury as a title decider.
Thomas' side are 10 points clear of the reigning champions and victory tomorrow would put Swardeston firmly on course for their first EAPL title.
But Thomas played down the significance of the match, saying: "Obviously it is a big game and we will go into it looking to win, but it is a little early to call it a decider.
"We play them again in the penultimate match of the season and I think that game could be the decisive one - hopefully we will still be up there by then."
Although they are still top, Swardeston have faltered slightly recently, with defeat to Horsford followed by an unconvincing one-wicket victory at Clacton last Saturday and a last-ball triumph over Downham Town in the Biss Trophy on Sunday.
"The batting has been struggling in the last couple of weeks," admitted Thomas, "We have been winning most games, but there is a lot of improvement to be done and hopefully it will click this weekend. On paper, we have a very strong batting line-up so I can't really put my finger on it. I just think we need to turn 20s and 30s into 50s and 60s - only Jaden Hatwell has made really big scores for us so far. I don't think we have played to our full potential yet and we need to turn that corner."
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One of the batsmen struggling for form has been Zimbabwean Test player Brian Murphy, but he showed signs of improvement with a crucial unbeaten 20 as Swardeston just managed to reach their victory target of 89 at Clacton.
Thomas said: "It was nice to see Brian do well and hopefully that will give him some confidence. It has been difficult for all the batsmen because we have played on some rain-affected wickets and it's not really been a batting summer so far."
Although the general consensus is that Bury are not quite as strong this year as in their last two, championship-winning, seasons, Thomas is in no doubt that his side face a tough examination and believes it is a two-horse race for the title: "Bury are probably still favourites to win the league," he said. "I'd be surprised if any of the other teams catch up with them."
It is a battle of a different sort at Manor Park tomorrow, as the bottom two, Horsford and Fakenham, face each other.
Norwich will be looking to make amends for last weekend's disappointment, when they failed to finish off Bury and then lost to Great Witchingham in the Biss Trophy, as they host Cambridge Granta tomorrow.
Witchingham travel to Clacton and Vauxhall Mallards are at Godmanchester.