EAPL round-up: Sawston & Babraham maintain perfect start while Sudbury win and Josh Cantrell's unbeaten century is not enough for Bury St Edmunds
Sawston & Babraham's (91-2) perfect start to the defence of their Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League campaign continued on Saturday with a comprehensive eight-wicket home victory at the expense of Great Witchingham (90).
The relentless Rams were on top from the moment that overseas star Peter Hatzoglou ran out opener James Baker (7) with Witchingham on 28.
And that was the start of an impressive showing from the Big Bash player, who finished his 10 overs with the ball with figures of 5-28 as the away side were skittled out after just 29 overs.
Callum Guest (2-6) accounted for a couple more of the Witchingham wickets, while James Vandepeer (1-15) and Mark Smith (1-24) snared one apiece.
Hatzoglou went on to spearhead Sawston's reply with a run-a-ball knock of 32, while fellow opener Guest racked up 24 runs before he fell to the bowling of George Hooper.
It was left to Charlie Lewis (3 not out) and skipper Dan Heath (7no) to get the home team over the line and seal a result that has seen them open up a 37-lead at the summit.
It is Bury St Edmunds (264-6) that currently occupy second placed despite three-run defeat at Copdock & Old Ipswichian (267-9).
It proved to be a superb game of cricket as 531 runs were scored with 49 x 4s and 10 x 6s, while Josh Cantrell ended up on the losing side despite his impressive unbeaten score of 143.
The home side won the toss and elected to bat, although their key batsman Ben Clayton was out early caught by Jacob Miltz off Alistair Allchin.
Former Bury player Alex Oxley along with Sam Arthurton batted well but were both out with 86 scored as Oxley (20) was caught by wicket-keeper Miltz and Arthurton (42) played on to a swift Rufus Easdale delivery.
However, Bury suffered a big blow in the 25 over when Miltz suffered a dislocated thumb, forcing him to leave the field for treatment at A & E. Max Whittaker took over the gloves with his brother Ben fielding as a substitute despite a broken toe.
The injury disrupted the game but the hosts soon took control through ex-Bury captain Michael Comber and Suffolk skipper Jackie Beaumont. Both scored half centuries but were out close together with the score reaching 214-5 in the 41st over. Charlie Cook had Comber caught by Cantrell and Beaumont caught by Allchin off Easdale. The innings closed on 267-9 with two late wickets for Alex Cruickshank (2-50), while Easdale took 4-53 and Cook 2-52.
In reply, Bury lost George Loyd in the first over which brought Cantrell to join captain Ben Seabrook .who was out for 30 at 65-2.
Max Whittaker batted well for 30 before a determined Miltz returned to bat strapped up and the South African scored 25 off 27 deliveries, eventually being well caught on the boundary.
Cantrell batted on to reach his century, with Bury then needing 55 off five overs and this became 30 off three and in the end four was needed off the last ball but Cantrell, who had been on the pitch for all but one over, was unable to produce one final piece of heroics.
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Sudbury (264-5) returned from their first away match of the campaign with a narrow 11-run victory at Horsford (253).
Batting first, Sudbury's opener Kenny Moulton-Day (19) showed intent from the start as 17 were scored from the first over, but once he was out Darren Batch (69) and Alex Quin (77) took a more conventional approach to batting as they put on 125 for the second wicket.
Ben Parker (52) replaced Batch with the score on 208 and increased the run rate, particularly in a rapid 36 partnership with Lasith Lakshan (19) before Ben Reece (7no) saw the score up to a respectable 264 at the end of 50 overs.
A steady start to Horsford's reply meant that the first wicket didn't fall until the 18th over with the score on 76 but gradually Sudbury's bowlers took control and kept the run rate below that required as wickets fell at regular intervals.
Reece (4-55) caused considerable problems with his spin partner Lakshan (2-35) whilst skipper Paddy Sadler (2-48) and Chris Sturgeon (2-29) picked up the other wickets.
Sturgeon's removal of 17-year-old opener Ethan Metcalf (67) for the second wicket was a major turning point in the game. With Horsford on 200 as the ninth wicket fell a quick victory for the Talbots seemed fairly inevitable but Horsford's number 11, Jason Reynolds (37), was their injured wicket-keeper and a regular top order batsman and duly formed a dangerous partnership with Will Rogers (57no) as some hard hitting ate away at the remaining runs.
The final ball of the penultimate over finally saw the fall of the tenth wicket as skipper Sadler held onto a swirling skier from Reynolds off his own bowling to secure the 25 points.
Meanwhile, the all-Essex affair saw Saffron Walden (279-9) win by 62 runs at Frinton-on-Sea, while Swardeston (153-3) ran out seven-wicket winners at home against Witham (150).
That quartet of teams currently make up the bottom four, with Swardeston in eighth trailed by Witham, Saffron Walden and Frinton.
Saturday, May 21 fixtures (11am start)
Bury St Edmunds v Great Witchingham
Saffron Walden v Mildenhall
Sudbury v Frinton-on-Sea
Witham v Copdock & Old Ipswichian
Horsford v Sawston & Babraham
Weekend off: Swardeston