EAPL round-up: Sawston & Babraham extend their lead at the top while Bury St Edmunds bowlers have Burwell & Exning in a spin
Sawston & Babraham went into Saturday’s eighth round of matches in the Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League as the only side with a 100 per cent winning record still intact.
Despite a tough challenge on their home wicket at Spicers Sports Ground from previously second-placed Mildenhall (105), the Rams (195) recorded a 90-run win to extend their lead at the summit by five points, from 32 to 37.
After winning the toss Dan Heath elected to bat but their pristine run had look in jeopardy at 90-6 with Callum Guest (28 from 64 balls), Rishi Patel (25 from 47), Matthew Hague, Waqas Hussain, Noah Thain and Ben Clilverd all departed.
Even this represented a bit of a fight-back though as Tristan Blackledge’s (4-49) three early wickets had left the hosts at 19-3.
Blackledge’s opening bowling partner Tom Rash (5-33) joined the party and Matt Allen (1-51) got the prized wicket of Leicestershire's Patel, who had played a match winning debut the previous weekend.
Mildenhall were again putting in another strong performance with this table-topping battle being the Rams' third consecutive contest at the summit of the EAPL following wins over Swardeston and Bury.
Alex Stafford, a school-master whose work commitments have restricted his appearances so far this term, was not even in the starting line-up at the start of the week. But it underlined Sawston’s strength in depth that Stafford, with help from Charlie Lewis (21) and the tail, added 105 with partnerships with skipper Heath, James Vandepeer and Mark Smith.
Stafford finished unbeaten on 69 (from 86 balls) and added 55 for the last wicket with Mark Smith the last man out. Lewis was himself recalled from the seconds following an impressive 50 last week.
Smith, following up his three-wicket haul last week, was again in sensational form as he took 5-20 with his opening bowling partner Vandepeer (2-34) also chipping in with early wickets as Mildenhall were blown away, finding themselves at 39-7.
The Allen’s Tom and Matt both added 23 and Peter Worthington 19 not out as Mildenhall were eventually bowled out for 105, Guest with 3-7 delivering the victory.
With Swardeston (171-5) enjoying a five-wicket win at Frinton-on-Sea (167-7) to send them to the 2019 champions to the bottom, it saw the Norfolk side take over in second spot with Mildenhall dropping to fourth.
The side in third is Bury St Edmunds (68-3) who produced one of the most comprehensive and devastating EAPL bowling performances of recent times in a seven-wicket win at Burwell & Exning (65).
The home side won the toss and elected to bat on what was a good even surface on an Exning Park ground that, as always, looked superb and now has been extended by 12 metres to make it one of the most picturesque in the region with cattle grazing in the back ground.
The Bury bowling was excellent from all four seamers. George Loyd took the first wicket, bowling Olly Jefferies with just a run scored and 1-1 became 19.3 as Alistair Allchin, playing against his former club, and Loyd took further wickets, the third being former Bury player Tim Catley for five.
Allchin removed both Josh Tetley and Nathan Huckle with the score at 31-5.
The key was that the change bowlers, Max Dias and Rufus Easdale, maintained the momentum with good line and length giving few opportunities to score runs.
Easdale has good pace and the home side could not cope, while Suffolk youngster Dias brought the stubborn resistance of ex-Bury player Luke Du-Plooy to an end with a very good caught and bowled. But it was Easdale who delivered the final blow with four wickets.
Allchin finished with 3-24, Loyd 2-7, Dias 1-19 and Easdale 4-10 off just 21 deliveries. It was a day the three Bury spin bowlers did not expect as the home side were all out for 65 in 28.3 overs.
Bury did not have it easy in reply, Chris Benjamin being run out due to excellent fielding by Tim Catley without facing a ball.
Alfie Marston was out for 13 and Mat Doran for 17 but Bury captain Ben Seabrook, who had scored an unbeaten century for Cambridgeshire against Suffolk on the ground five days earlier, made the target with Josh Cantrell with no more concerns.
Sudbury (180-7) find themselves down in seventh after playing out a hard-fought draw at Friars Street against Horsford (198) with neither side quite able to force victory in the last hour of the game.
Visiting Horsford won the toss and chose to bat, a decision they were perhaps regretting when both Jonny Gallagher and James Poulson struck early with the new ball to leave them 10-2.
While the Sudbury bowling attack were disciplined throughout the first session, Jason Reynolds (33) and Oscar Binny (27) built steadily for the visitors, putting on 54 for the third wicket.
Sean Cooper removed both in quick succession and the game was evenly poised at 94-4 at lunch.
Horsford pair Stephan Marillier (53) and Ash Watson (46) played positively after the resumption and threatened to take the game away from Sudbury at one stage, combining for a 100-run stand.
Both established players were caught on the boundary off the bowling of Ryan Vickery though and this stunted Horsford's progress towards the end of their allotted overs.
Cooper produced an excellent spell to end with figures of 5-44, and Sudbury were set 199 to win.
Skipper Adam Mansfield (37) returned to the top of the order and this saw the best start with the bat for the Talbots so far this season; Mansfield's dismissal on the stroke of tea left Sudbury 68-2.
The runs dried up a little thereafter with the three-pronged Horsford spin attack producing miserly spells on a slow wicket.
Darren Batch battled hard for 29 but wickets fell at relatively regular intervals and at 133-6 the prospects of Sudbury chasing their target seemed to have diminished.
Suffolk batsman Ben Parker (79) played the innings of the day to help his side get close, but when he fell with just over two overs remaining Poulson and Cooper were happy to play out the draw to end on 180-7, and ensure both teams ended with 10 points.
Elsewhere, Cambridge (174, Ranaweera 97) finally got off the mark to get themselves off the bottom of the pile with an 11-run victory at Great Witchingham. And Saffron Walden (290-6, A Russell 92, N Gorantia 76, G Ecclestone 59) took 16 points from a home draw with Copdock & Old Ipswichian (199-7) who collected eight to end the day in eighth.
Weekend fixtures for Saturday (11am):
Bury St Edmunds Vs Frinton-On-Sea
Cambridge Vs Sawston & Babraham
Copdock & Old Ipswichian Vs Great Witchingham
Horsford Vs Saffron Walden
Mildenhall Vs Burwell & Exning
Swardeston Vs Sudbury