EAPL round-up: Sawston & Babraham stretch lead at top while wins for Copdock & Old Ipswichian and Mildenhall leave them second and third respectively
Defending champions Sawston & Babraham (146-5) have opened up a 42-point lead at the top of the Read Brothers East Anglian Premier League following Saturday’s five-wicket victory at Horsford (143).
The game in Norfolk marked the start of the red-ball segment of the campaign, which in turn saw the possibility of a draw come into play.
However, having bowled out the hosts cheaply there was always going to be a winner and despite losing some early wickets, the Rams got the job done during the 44th over.
In terms of the bowling, Ben Clilverd particularly caught the eye for Sawston as he returned figures of 5-35 from his 12 overs.
There was also another good haul from Big Bash all-rounder Peter Hatzoglou, who is the second highest wicket taker in this season’s Premier League after he posted figures of 4-41.
Tim Moses (1-19) snared the other wicket as the home side were bowled out in three balls shy of 50 overs.
The reply initially from Sawston was far from empathic, with Charlie Lewis (8), Callum Guest (14), Luke Spears (5) and Clilverd (9) all losing their wickets cheaply to leave the visitors languishing on 41-4.
But the innings was then steadied as the combination of Moses (45 not out) and captain Dan Heath (34) put on a partnership of 65 runs before latter fell to the bowling of Peter Minns.
Hatzoglou (21no) took over from the skipper and along with Moses got Sawston over the line to make it six straight wins this term – and 10 in total when taking into account the four victories they racked up towards the end of last term.
Closest to Sawston are second-placed Copdock & Old Ipswichian (276-4) after they ran out six-wicket winners on the road at Witham (273-6).
A large chunk of the Copdock runs were scored by openers Chris Huntington (82) and Michael Goodwin (59), who combined to put on 142 for the first wicket.
A couple of points behind Copdock are Mildenhall (119-4), who returned from their trip over the Essex border at Saffron Walden (118) with a six-wicket victory in tow.
Bowling first, the visitors shared the wickets around as Naveen Gunawardana (3-33), Tristan Blackledge (2-20), Tom Rash (2-29) Jack Loveday and captain Darren Ironside (both 1-15) skittled out the hosts in 49.3 overs.
Mildenhall's reply did not get off to the best of starts when the departures of Ironside (0) and Olly Jeffries (6) left them on 16-2, but eventually things steadied and it was Joe Tetley (40) and Tim Catley (56 not out) that produced the knocks to get the visitors over the winning line.
Fourth-placed Bury St Edmunds (270-7) had to settle for a draw from their home clash with Great Witchingham (139-6) at the Victory Ground.
Bury captain Ben Seabrook lost the toss for the fifth time running this season and it was no surprise the visiting captain elected to field. The covers had been on the pitch for most of the previous 24 hours and inevitably there was some moisture to aid the seam bowlers.
Bury lost Ben Curran early but his fellow opener Justin Bishop and Jacob Miltz really battled against a ball that was moving around.
Bishop used all of his experience before he was finally out in the 27th over for 46 – a valuable innings as the surface was drying out. Miltz, meanwhile, was out on lunch for 40, trapped LBW by Andy Hanby – the pick of the bowlers.
After lunch batting became easier as Seabrook and Josh Cantrell batted well. Cantrell was out for a run-a-ball 43 with the score 185-4, while Seabrook played with style.
George Loyd made a brisk 22 as Seabrook attacked the bowlers to eventually finish unbeaten on 100, and in doing so ensured his side had posted more than 250 runs for the fourth innings in a row.
Great Witchingham started carefully but soon lost two wickets to opening bowlers Alistair Allchin and Alex Cruickshank.
At 22-2 with 47 overs remaining it could have been a competitive encounter, particularly because the away team's Yassen Valli is the league's leading run scorer. However, when two more wickets fell to Bishop in the 20th over the score was 63-4 and it acted as a signal to batten down the hatches. As such, the next 10 overs yielded just 12 runs as the game drifted into obscurity.
Bury took a fifth wicket on 74 – bowled by Loyd, who then pulled up with an injury that prevented him bowling further.
Cantrell had Peter Trewick trapped LBW for 29 with the score at 126-6, but the final 12 overs produced just 13 runs as Valli ended 41 not out from 131 deliveries.
Fifth-placed Sudbury (164) suffered their second defeat of the campaign, going down by seven wickets to Frinton-on-Sea (165-3).
Missing Adam Mansfield (work) and James Poulson (injured), the hosting Talbots were invited to bat first and adopted a slow and cautious approach until Darren Batch (22) fell in the 12th. And soon after 27-1 became 47-5 as Usama Ashfaq (4), Alex Quin (5), Lasith Lakshan (0) and Kenny Moulton-Day (3) all headed back to the pavilion in quick succession.
Ben Reece (39) then joined Ben Parker (72) and together they built the only real partnership of the innings, but soon after lunch Reece was out caught and the 87-run partnership came to an end.
Parker had to attempt to take most of the strike as wickets continued to fall quickly at the other end until he was finally last out, leaving a well below par total of 164 with 14 of the available overs left.
Frinton's reply gained an early impetus as Ashane Wijesuriya (24) struck three 4s in the fourth over before he retired with severe cramp following his 18 overs of bowling in Sudbury's innings.
Sudbury's first success came in the 16th over when Chris Sturgeon (1-20) had Josh Frame caught at mid-off by Batch, but they had to wait until the 24th over for their next success when Reece (2-44) had Blaine Bannister (21) caught at slip by Lakshan.
Another wicket fell soon after when Reece claimed the wicket of the dangerous Joshua Rymell (48) aided by another catch by Batch at mid-off, and the view at tea (104-3) was that a couple of quick wickets after the break would make a close game.
However, Miguel Michado (46 not out, including six 4s and three 6s) and skipper James Baker (20no) had other ideas and Frinton reached their target with no further loss and 33 overs to spare.
Saturday, May 28 fixtures (11am starts)
Frinton-on-Sea v Horsford
Great Witchingham v Witham
Mildenhall v Sudbury
Sawston & Babraham v Bury St Edmunds
Swardeston v Saffron Walden
Weekend off: Copdock & Old Ipswichian