Review of the 2017 season in the East Anglian Premier League – Sudbury champions and Bury avoid bottom spot
Cricket correspondent CARL MARSTON reviews the East Anglian Premier League season, which ended with Sudbury winning the title for the first-ever time
Swardeston’s long reign as champions of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League was always going to end at some time, but very few would have predicted that their crown would be taken by Sudbury.
The Norfolk club had topped the league for five years on the bounce, and were again the favourites to clinch the title for a sixth year on the trot in 2017.
And in truth, Swardeston did come very close to achieving that goal, only to be pipped by a Sudbury side who had only clinched promotion back to the EAPL at the end of 2015 by winning the Two Counties Championship.
Sudbury led the league from the first weekend to the last, and fully deserved their first-ever EAPL title, after finishing seventh in their first season back at the top tier of regional club cricket in 2016.
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Cambridge Granta, second to Swardeston last year, were always off the pace, while the likes of Frinton and Copdock & Old Ipswichian both lacked the consistency to mount a title push. Frinton were hampered by bad weather and Copdock by injuries to key players.
At the other end of the table, Bury St Edmunds were once again involved in a desperate struggle to avoid relegation.
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Bury have become masters of escaping bottom spot, after awful first-half-of-the-seasons in recent years, and again they managed to clamber off the basement, with a little help from Horsford’s 30-point deduction for an unfit pitch in the abandoned match against Copdock at the end of July.
As it happened, there was no relegation from the EAPL this year, with none of the winners from the three feeder leagues, including the Two Counties champions Elmstead, wanting to join the EAPL, with all of its bigger commitments and financial implications.
But the fact that Bury finished second-from-bottom, and not bottom, was a big fillip for Sean Park’s young side.
Copdock (fifth) and Frinton (sixth) both had solid campaigns, while newly-promoted Mildenhall, so impressive during the first couple of months of the summer, endured a tough second half of the season before ending in ninth.
Here is a run-down of our five clubs from the reign, with a recap of their pre-summer hopes plus their post-season thoughts.
Placing: 1st (league champions) with 16 wins & 445pts
Pre-summer quotes: “We definitely want to be challenging near the top” – club captain Darren Batch.
Post-summer quotes: “This was such an easy side to captain! We had four front-line seamers, and I always had five or six bowlers to call upon, which other captains did not have. We also always managed to bounce back, whenever we suffered a defeat” – first team skipper Tom Huggins.
COPDOCK & OLD IPSWICHIAN
Placing: 5th with 10 wins, 333pts
Pre-summer quotes: “I’m not making any predictions. I’m certainly not going to be drawn into saying we can win it!” – captain Tom Rash.
Post-summer quotes: “We were inconsistent all season, not just from game-to-game, but within games as well” – captain Rash.
Placing: 6th with 8 wins, 327pts
Pre-summer quotes: “We’re looking to win the title this year. We’re looking to bring home some silverware” – captain Kyran Young.
Post-summer quotes: “We fell away a bit during the last couple of games. We certainly targeted to be near the top, which is where we should have been, but a lot of things transpired against us.
“Our overseas player calling off a week before the season did not help, and we felt that all summer, while we had four matches rained off which equates to a potential 100 points. We were on top in three of those, while the Burwell match was called off the night before” – captain Young.
Placing: 9th with 6 wins, 240pts
Pre-summer quotes: “If you ask anyone around the club, they will say that finishing 11th (out of 12) would be a success this season, but I’m hoping for slightly more than that” – captain Ben Shepperson.
BURY ST EDMUNDS
Placing: 11th with 4 wins, 207pts
Pre-summer quotes: “I’m looking towards a mid-table position. We’re hoping to give some key youngsters more experience” – captain Sean Park.
Post-summer quotes: “We have been near the bottom for the last three years, and have still not gone down. Hopefully, we will be a little bit wiser in future years. I’ve enjoyed the challenge as skipper, and we’re pleased not to finish bottom” – captain Park.