Sudbury lose at Swardeston but they remain top at half-way mark

Darren Batch, who scored 122 not out in Sudbury's narrow defeat at Swardeston by two wickets. Pictur

Darren Batch, who scored 122 not out in Sudbury's narrow defeat at Swardeston by two wickets. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

Sudbury’s club captain, Darren Batch, scored an unbeaten century but it was not enough for his side to avoid a two-wicket defeat at defending champions Swardeston on Saturday, in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League.

However, Sudbury stay top of the table, 10 points clear of nearest challengers Swardeston, at the half-way point of the season, and so remain in with a great chance of winning the region’s top club title for the first-ever time.

In the end, their Norfolk hosts squeezed home with just three balls to spare in an intriguing top-two clash at The Common.

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Put into bat by Swardeston captain, Mark Thomas, Sudbury lost opener Adam Mansfield in the very first over, caught by Joe Gatting off Thomas Oxley for a first-ball duck.

That prompted the early appearance of Batch, at No. 3, and he proceeded to produce his best knock of the summer with an unbeaten 122 in the visitors’ total of 267 for eight, off 64 overs.

Struggling on 39 for three, which included the early exit of first-team skipper Tom Huggins, the excellent Batch and Ben Reece (46) put on 92 for the fourth wicket.

Batch received further good support from Daniel Poole (20) in a sixth wicket partnership of 62, to at least set their hosts a challenging target.

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“We were relatively pleased with the way we were placed at half-way,” explained club captain Batch.

“We had put a good score on the board, and so felt that we were in with a good chance, although we knew that they had some dangerous players in their team.

“Personally, it was nice to score a few runs for the team, and to score my first century of the season,” added Batch.

In the field, Sudbury enjoyed the perfect start by claiming a wicket with their very first ball of the innings, James Poulson having Peter Lambert caught behind by wicketkeeper Mansfield.

But fellow opener Jason Reynolds went on to score a century, sharing a second-wicket partnership of 163 with Essex 2nd XI batsman Callum Taylor, who plundered 89 in 94 balls with an impressive 17 boundaries.

Reynolds, who faced 146 balls for his 100, also put on 61 for the fourth wicket with wicketkeeper Gray, whose quickfire 56 off 44 deliveries was to prove crucial.

Batch continued: “We got the perfect start with James Poulson getting rid of Peter Lambert, but (Callum) Taylor and (Jason) Reynolds batted especially well. They attacked our bowlers and put us under pressure.

“They did not let out bowlers settles into a rhythm, and Taylor was particularly aggressive.

“We did well to finally get Taylor and Joe Gatting in quick succession, but (Stephen) Gray came in and carried on with the attacking ploy, hitting three sixes. His innings was vital for them.

“We managed to get a few wickets near the end (three wickets fell for no runs to leave the total on 262 for seven), and in the end it was very tight,” added Batch.

Swardeston needed six runs off the final two overs, and two off the final over, scraping home by two wickets and with three balls left.

However, this was only Sudbury’s second defeat of the season – the Friars Street club have won their other nine fixtures – and so they remain well-placed to deny Swardeston what would be a sixth title on the trot.

“If someone had said, before the start of the season, that we would win nine of our first 11 matches and be top by 10 points, then we would have been very pleased,” admitted Batch.

“And if we can match that record in the second half of the season, then we will win the league.”

Sudbury are away again, at Burwell this Saturday.