7 – Norwich (Away)
247 all out v 178-9
In = McCoubrey / Hawkridge
Out = J Cook / Raymond
This time around Norwich gained more points than us (9 versus 8) despite being 70 runs short of our total, and being on the back foot for almost the whole day.
Dave Randall top scored for us with 58, and there were other good contributions from Glen Batticiotto and Colin Barry (47 each).
Both of these guys (and Adrian McCoubrey) were in the wickets, whilst Toby Pugh only had one to show for his tight spell.
In the end some strong resistance from the #11 and Ashley (or was it Aaron?) Watson together with a late missed chance meant that we had to settle for another winning draw.
The points system even called Norwich the winners (9 versus 8) on this occasion even though they had never looked like potential winners at any stage of the day!
Looking back we had several key matches fall agonisingly one wicket away from a victory, which cost us a swag of points and the top spot in the league table.
8 – Cambridge (Home)
359-4 v 247-6
In = Raymond
Out = McCoubrey
An absolute road of a pitch and lightning fast (bumpy) outfield at Drapers provided the key ingredients for a sure-fire draw.
Despite a declaration 8 overs before our allocation (we would easily have gone beyond 400 for the first time in the clubs 1st XI history) we couldn’t find enough time to force a positive result and the away team never looked to threaten our more than 6 an over total.
A century opening stand with half centuries for both Barber (64) and Elliott (55) in rapid time set the tone for the day. Batticciotto (60) and David Randall (101*) with his maiden EAPL century coupled with some biffing from Jimmy Ainscough in a late cameo saw us strike 40 boundaries en-route to our biggest total of the year.
All of the Cambridge bowlers suffered with ex-Essex all rounder Danny Wilson taking a bit of a caning on that day at 10 runs per over.
The declaration was immediate upon Arkle reaching his landmark, and this left us 62 overs to try to force a positive result.
Our new ball pair, Colin and Glen, helped us take early wickets and at 44-3 we had Cambridge on the rack. A run chase was never a realistic prospect but Wilson did salvage some pride for the match with an excellent unbeaten 137 as Cambridge secured a few batting bonus points.
9 Clacton (Away)
262-8 v 236 all out
Won by 26 runs
In = Symons / J Cook
Out = Raymond / Hawkridge
At a ground at which I could only recall us winning once (Barbs smashed a century in the mid 1990s) we finally tasted success which was once again built on a big total.
Barbs was in form again with a rapid 50 in a stand of 87 with Elmo. Glen also passed 50 with both Elmo and Dubbers going close but 200-2 became 223-8 before Legend and Dwarf boosted us past 260.
Toby Pugh grabbed a couple of wickets (2-64) after Clacton made a good start with an 80 run opening stand. Despite Trevor Moulton’s brilliant 137 in reply we managed to get home with a handful of overs to spare. The key man was Colin Barry (4-51) but his wickets only came after little Timothy Bondin (2-21) dismissed a couple of stubborn middle order batters in a period where it felt like the game was getting away from us, as we suffered under attack from Trevor.
Fittingly, Tim caught the game-winning catch although he still admits today that as he stood at long off underneath the mishit he was “absolutely sh*tting my pants”.
At the half-way mark we were sitting pretty with 5 wins, 3 draws (all of which saw the opposition clinging on 9 wickets down), 1 rained off, and 0 defeats…not enough to top the table but it had definitely given us a shot at the title.
10 – Swardeston (Away)
266-9 v 268-8
Lost by 2 wickets
In = McCoubrey
Out = Symons
What was it about Norfolk grounds that made home advantage so precious: small, mis-shapen, sloping, wet with morning dew…or any combination of the above?! Swardeston certainly fitted these descriptors and we ended up never winning there. This was one of our better efforts and despite a difficult start where we lost wickets….and struggled to 99-4 we battled back to post 268 all out.
We missed Alastair Cook although the statistician – nerds of Norfolk will gleefully tell you that Alastair Cook got ducks in his both of his visits – it must be the only place in cricket where he never scored a run!
Colin Barry top scored with 68, and he got back-up from Jeff Cook (52) whilst Glen (37) and Jimmy (35) made more than useful contributions.
Michael Parlane, a Kiwi, was their gun player and even though we eventually teased him out for 79 he had laid a solid foundation. James Walker who went on to play for Leicestershire backed him up with 85, with the pair adding 143 for the third wicket.
We took wickets regularly after that, with Glen 4-61 as our biggest threat, but they were always slightly ahead of the run rate. And to our chagrin they squeezed home despite our very best efforts.
An interesting feature of this game was that it took place over 125 overs instead of the usual 120. The home team bowled their overs at a rate in excess of 17 per hour meaning that by the time the last hour started at 6pm we had to bowl even more overs back at them, a double-edged coin as it provided a longer time frame for them to score the runs or us to bowl them out.
We’d played very well and I’m still not quite sure how we lost. It was a blow to our title ambitions and made for a long journey home that evening. 😡
11 -Fakenham (Home)
123 all out v 127-5
Won by 5 wickets
In = A Cook
Out = Pugh
After massacring these blokes earlier in the year and with pretty much our full strength side out, including Alastair Cook, we were more than a little optimistic of an early finish.
That was surely on my mind after inserting them and watching on as our guys rolled them over for a mere 123. Easily the lowest score at Drapers that season, and across the two games we had them 169-20!
All the bowlers tasted success with 3 wickets each for Symons and Batticiotto, backed up with 2 for McCoubrey and 1 for Barry.
It wasn’t quite as simple as I’d imagined though and we made hard work of surpassing their total, losing 5 wickets in the process even though we knocked the runs off in slightly more than 25 overs for an early finish. It was one of the games where we all knew we were going to win so no-one took the task too seriously…
Still it was another win, and a first double of our season (we’d beaten Bury home and away the previous year to secure our very first EAPL double).
I’m not quite sure how Fakenham weren’t relegated that season…perhaps none of the feeder league winners felt equipped to deal with the step up to the EAPL.