Skipper of struggling Vauxhall Mallards insists ‘future is looking bright’
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Past joys of title glory may seem like distant memories for Vauxhall Mallards at the moment – but skipper Paul Bradshaw is hopeful that better days lie ahead.
The Ducks are currently at rock bottom in the East Anglian Premier League, 24 points adrift of nearest rivals Woolpit at the foot of the table and with just one win to their name.
But former Norfolk captain Bradshaw feels this season has been one of transition, both on and off the pitch.
The five-time EAPL winners had to leave their traditional Strumpshaw Road home at the end of last season – when they had finished seventh in the EAPL – because the club’s lease on the Brundall ground had ran out.
An agreement with Norfolk League club Halvergate saw the Ducks move to the village side’s Wickhampton Road ground, near Acle.
“The cricket club had to move and we couldn’t have done any better in terms of the ground move,” Bradshaw said. “Halvergate have been fantastic in the way they have accepted us and welcomed us to their club.
“The move has gone better than we ever could have imagined.”
That success has not translated to the pitch yet this year – but there have been some encouraging signs recently.
An eight-wicket win at Woolpit in mid-June, led by an unbeaten 75 from Geeth Alwis, was followed up with a spirited effort against league leaders Swardeston.
The Ducks scored 248-9 at Halvergate against the reigning champions, with Alwis leading the way again with 83, but Swardeston raced to 250-5 to take the win.
That was followed by a match at Bury St Edmunds being abandoned and then a narrow two-wicket defeat against Norwich at Ingham last weekend.
“We’ve got quite a young side who aren’t quite managing to win games,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve got ourselves in good positions in a number of games but have not transferred that to wins.
“Very rarely have we been completely outplayed but there’s more than enough time to keep plugging away, the league is only just over halfway and there were signs of improvement last week.
“There’s no relegation, with Clacton withdrawing at the start of the year, so there’s not that pressure and there’s a good opportunity for the young lads who are the future of this club.
“We can take quite a bit from the game on Saturday (against Norwich), it could have gone either way, but all the way through little things kept going against us like it started raining and gave us a wet ball to bowl with.
“It’s those little things that keep going against us but they won’t keep going against us all season, the tide will turn.”
Bradshaw will be hoping that tide will begin turning tomorrow when sixth-placed Cambridge Granta come to Halvergate.
The Mallards skipper continued: “Every side goes through a period where you have to rebuild. Players like Carl Amos couldn’t go on forever, at some stage you have to pass it on to the younger lads and bring them through so that they can become more mature cricketers.
“I think David Turner at the top of the innings has really taken that on and is consistently getting into good scores but I think, by his own admission, he would like to go on and get really big scores and match-winning scores.
“The seamers Adam Todd and Brett Stolworthy are maturing and have got more of a gameplan and know how to approach working a batsman, other different sections in a game, what sort of things to do and when not to.
“Those three perhaps jump out at you but we’ve got Matt Plater who is with the Northants Academy as well and at 18 he can already win you any match on his own.
“So I think the future is looking bright for us.”
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