Norfolk League’s controversial SS ball banished to boundary

A controversial cricket ball which became a hot potato after it was introduced for Norfolk League matches this season has been hit for six.

The SS ball, bought as a cut-price alternative to the long-serving Super Test ball, sparked a wide-ranging debate with more than the odd verbal bouncer aimed in the direction of league officials via its Facebook page.

Critics complained about the ball's hard lacquered surface and claimed bowlers were unable to make it swing. Others were in favour or indifferent and league chairman Jonathan Cooke urged players to give it a fair trial in all weather conditions before condemning it as unfit for purpose.

But this week it was revealed that the league will be using another ball, described as 'superior quality' next season.

A meeting of over 50 Norfolk League captains voted in favour of using a Duncan Fearnley ball next season.

Norfolk League secretary Tim Porter, who chaired Monday's meeting at Sprowston CC, said negative feedback had been taken on board.

'The new ball has been used in Warwickshire and Worcestershire Leagues. It is an ECB-recommended ball and has got an excellent track record. We cast our net around and decided it was an opportunity we could not miss. The ball is two grades higher than the balls used for the last two seasons, so it's a much better quality product and at �8 it's a modest increase in price.

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'The feedback from the captains was that they were pleased we had been proactive. We'll be using it for the whole season and reviewing it on a season by season basis.'

The meeting also heard that the Norfolk League is looking into the possibility of running a midweek Twenty20 competition and would like to hear the views of clubs.

A series of area group contests followed by knockout stages and a final is one possibility.

The meeting heard that Bradenham B had withdrawn from the league for next season. The league welcomes new applications which must be received by the league secretary by September 30.

Clubs wishing to propose rule changes must do in writing by September 30. The league's annual meeting will be held at UEA Sportspark on November 21.

The league's annual prize dinner is to be held at the Hotel Mercure, Boundary Road, Norwich, on October 12. Last year's winners must return their trophies as soon as possible.


Drayton CC have landed the Norfolk League's sportsmanship award for a record fourth time after a season which ended with a relegation body blow.

Despite a fraught Division One campaign Phil Soanes' side have been rewarded for avoiding any temptation to put scowls before smiles.

They have been declared the league's overall Tony Gregory Spirit of Cricket award winners out of over 70 teams, narrowly beating last season's winners Bungay A by a point when marks from opponents were totted up.

'Something we have always believed in as a club is to enjoy our cricket. You don't want arguments or fights or whatever. If both teams play in the right spirit it makes it more enjoyable for everyone,' said Soanes.

As a club Drayton have won the Spirit of Cricket Award – renamed in honour of the late Norfolk League official and Drayton's popular president Tony Gregory, who died in 2009 – four times.

And the award comes as a silver lining during a season which saw Drayton finish second from bottom after only managing to play 11 out of 18 scheduled Division One fixtures because of the weather.

Yet although the sodden summer undoubtedly played its part in the team's misfortunes Soanes refuses to use it as an excuse for a series of poor results, which saw nine defeats and only two wins.

'We are very disappointed to get relegated. We thought we had a better side than last year and we should have finished in the top five or six. You can go on about the weather, hard luck and the fact that out of the seven games we had called off five of them were against so-called lesser teams but if we had performed how we should have done we would not have finished up where we did,' said Soanes, who has been at the helm for the past six seasons.

'Fielding wise and bowling wise the performances have been fantastic and heads have not dropped.

'Out of the 11 games we played, our opponents only scored over 160 against us three times, but we have lacked application with the bat big style.'

He praised opening pace bowlers Michael Mario-Ghae and Ravikant Sharma, who had taken approaching 40 wickets between them. 'Most opponents have told us that they are probably the best opening pair in the league.'

One bonus for the club this season came in the form of promotion from Mid Norfolk Sunday League RJ Bidwell Division Three for the team run by young players Fraser Dobson, 17, and Ryan Pointer, 20.

Drayton scooped �250 for winning the Spirit of Cricket award and Soanes said the money would be put towards a portable net, which would help with coaching young players at the King George VI playing field ground.