Kevin Pietersen omission is really good news

So, here we go, my last Verdict for 2012! British sport has had a quite incredible summer with the Olympics and Paralympics being staged in this country quite brilliantly.

Then we had last week's epic US Open tennis victory by Andy Murray. But for once, certainly over the past few years, our England Test team came up short.

They were beaten in a series for the first time in a while and now South Africa sit proudly at the top of the Test rankings. Our winning performance against a very average West Indies side at the start of the season only served as an appetiser for the main course against the Springboks but we finished a comfortable second.

Our cause wasn't helped by the shenanigans of Kevin Pietersen who, once again, seems to believe he is bigger than the game of cricket itself. His actions were both childish and disrespectful of the game and, as I had hoped, his exclusion from the touring party to India in November was I'm sure well received by many of the professional players and England supporters in this country.

On the domestic front the season finished in some style. Hampshire won Saturday's CB40 final against Warwickshire in a brilliant finish that had the (rather disappointingly low) crowd glued to their seats as both sides finished on tied scores but Hampshire winning by virtue of losing fewer wickets. Ian Bell again showed he is a class act but his dismissal with victory in sight was the turning point and he will be bitterly disappointed he didn't hit that low full toss into the Mound Stand and not into Michael Carberry's hands five metres short.

But full credit to Kabir Ali who bowled a fantastic last over to keep Warwickshire under the seven runs they required. It just went to show that a game is never over until the last run is scored and it was nice to see a bowler getting their just rewards in a limited overs game.

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On the local front, Swardeston managed to secure the single point they required last Saturday against nearest rivals Vauxhall Mallards in the East Anglian Premier League and, although losing the game was not the perfect end to the season that captain Mark Thomas would have preferred, the table doesn't lie.

By Mark's own admission they have outperformed their pre-season expectations of a mid-table finish but quite clearly they are a youngish team who play for each other and that counts for so much in tight games and in tight situations.

Mallards will be frustrated they were unable to mount the pressure on Swardeston they would have preferred but they will back in contention again next season, no doubt about that!

Horsford, as I said right at the beginning of the year, had, in my opinion, their best possible chance of winning this league for the first time but eventually finished third.

They had very able match winners in their side, as was proved by a quite incredible innings from Australian Chris Sabburg at the weekend against Great Witchingham, but winning this league is very much about belief and yet again my old club came up short.

Great Witchingham recovered following an indifferent start where they couldn't win matches and eventually finished a credible fifth.

Ultimately their inability to bowl sides out cheaply cost them dearly and, if they are to really challenge for a trophy, their choice of overseas is absolutely vital.

It may be, as he has indicated, they will also have to do without Carl Rogers so will need to cover his runs at the top of the order.


I retire with the playing strength of cricket within Norfolk in great shape. Our full county side now has the players to win championships and one-day trophies but they must start to deliver soon.

The ECB still maintain that the East Anglian Premier League is one of the strongest in the country and I believe they are spot on!

The strength of the Alliance Premier is at an all-time high and although Norwich will hopefully be back in the EAPL next season it will not lessen that quality too much.

The number of outstanding young players in our ranks is ever increasing and that is down to all the hours of hard work that goes into coaching our junior players.

Norfolk has become widely respected within the First Class game for producing a conveyor belt of highly talented players and, as I move into the next chapter of my life, I hope to be able to help add even more to that growing list. Winter well!


Although the final placings in the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division were decided last week, Norwich would still have wanted to go out with a bang and maintain their recent good form in light of this weekend's EAPL play-off game.

This they managed to do against the season's surprise package Old Buckenham, and at the same time, nearest rivals Fakenham were losing again against third-placed Downham Town which ultimately cost them second place in the table to their opponents.

The gap between the season's two pace-setters was just four points going into last week's fixture so the season-ending gap of 45 points was a little misleading to be honest.

Taking absolutely nothing away from the very competitive Downham team, Fakenham may just have been a little flat for the game following their defeat last week while Norwich could play with minds firmly fixed on a return to the EAPL next Saturday.

Acle's relegation back to Division One was confirmed some while ago but we knew we still had a say in who came down with us.

Following my retirement from all forms of cricket last weekend, I wasn't playing against Lowestoft at the Dean's Oval but was there to watch the boys record a fine victory; only our second of the season.

Nerves were frayed as Lowestoft kept up a barrage of phone calls to Diss where the home side were playing against second from bottom Ashmanaugh and Barton Wanderers.

Wanderers victory in the last over meant relegation for our opponents and left them feeling pretty flat so, over the next few hours we tried our hardest to lift their spirits by inviting them to join us in our 'East Coast Party' that included trips to the delights of Oulton Broad and Great Yarmouth; an evening I will never forget!


In the Championship, Derbyshire finally managed to pull off promotion into Division One, and at the same time secure the title over Yorkshire, after being the only county never to do so since the introduction of the two tier system. I was able to watch a lot of the match on Sky TV and while the game was 'nip and tuck' over the first three days, my old county raised their performance on day four and ran out comfortable winners.

While I would have loved to have been at the County Ground to see them do it, there was one person watching (or was he?) who seemed to have little or no interest in the match at all. Sky TV pundit Michael Atherton's actions, whose slovenly and openly 'bored' demeanour in the commentary box chair, which suggested he was not happy with his match allocation, was a tad embarrassing.

This was Derbyshire's biggest day for years and it should have been Atherton's job to show just a hint of enthusiasm.

But no, he was obviously saving it up for the following day when a Lord's Cup Final was quite clearly more to his liking. Was this the same person?