Opportunity for Horsford to make amends washed away
In what appeared to be the only game rained off in the East Anglian Premier League and Norfolk Alliance last Saturday, Horsford's chances of regaining top spot in the EAPL disintegrated when their game against Clacton was washed out even before my old club could even travel.
While Clacton is not high on anyone's list of places to play cricket, I'm certain that Chris Brown's side would have wanted to play to try to put right last week's loss to Swardeston.
As it was Swardeston were able to play and took full advantage with another win against Halstead. Victory I'm sure was not as comfortable as Mark Thomas would have liked but a victory all the same.
Yet again this season it appears Ian Tufts was there at the end to guide his side home as he seems to have done regularly this year.
The only local derby saw Vauxhall Mallards and Great Witchingham play out at draw at Walcis Park with the Witches only managing to pick up seven points. So with a third of the season gone yet again we have a local side topping the table with Swardeston looking to recapture the EAPL title they last won in 2008.
But at this stage sides are purely jostling for position and there is lots of cricket yet to be played. Reigning champions Cambridge Granta are a far better side than bottom but one in the table suggests and the other three Norfolk sides must still believe they can string some results together that will see them fly up the table.
As in the Norfolk Alliance the strength of the EAPL gets better. Feedback I have is that this league is stronger than ever, certainly in terms of the average club player and not judging the league purely on the quality of the overseas player.
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This can definitely be said of the Alliance Premier Division too and, as I suggested last week, I believe this division is at an all time high since the creation of the EAPL, in terms of quality and competitiveness.
In the games themselves the Norwich and Fakenham juggernauts roll on. Norwich particularly are in great form and beating teams comfortably.
Fakenham too, though rather less convincingly, are also on a roll with both sides playing with lots of confidence.
This weekend sees Norwich play another in-form team Vauxhall Mallards so maybe they can create a greater challenge to the Norwich title hopes!
And Fakenham visit Sprowston, another team that on their day will fancy taking something from that game.
• ACLE'S SLUMP CONTINUES IN THE ALLIANCE
At Acle things are no better on the results front! Our visit to Stow in the Alliance Premier was supposed to kick-start our season but unfortunately that didn't happen.
It didn't help matters that the vast majority of the side arrived just 15 minutes before the start of the game due to the tragic road accident in Norwich which delayed us all by over an hour. Common sense, in not delaying the start time, was obviously in short supply on Saturday! That doesn't excuse us from another poor performance and we now have the task of turning round our disastrous start to our season.
On a positive note, our second eleven are flying high at the top of Alliance Division 3, our thirds are playing some good stuff in the Norfolk League – and providing the best match teas on the circuit – and all our junior sides are currently unbeaten in any of the competitions we enter. So, all in all, the club is in a healthy state but we're just lacking some results at the top end but we all remain positive this will soon change.
However, at least one of my former sides is doing quite well this season. Division Two of the County Championship table currently sees Derbyshire riding high; 32 points clear of nearest rivals Kent and Yorkshire. This is completely new territory for my old club and one wonders whether they can keep it going. For me one of the main reasons for the early season success has to be down to their coach, Karl Krikken. 'Krikk' was a good mate of mine in those '80's' playing days and it's great to see him step up from his Academy coaching role to that of first team coach.
He will have a completely different approach to his predecessor and another former team-mate of mine of the 1980's, John Morris. 'Animal', as he was known, was not the greatest motivator of men, unqualified as a coach – hence the appointment of Andy Brown as fielding coach – and totally the wrong appointment. Now that has been rectified the club are beginning to see positive results and Krikk will be very much behind that success. Derbyshire will never be able to attract top class players so their choice of overseas professional has to be a considered one and not one made in haste. Hence the appointment last year of Martin Guptill from New Zealand would, at the time, not set too many pulses racing but he has been very much behind their early season form.
Allied to this would be the honesty of their seam bowlers; ex Essex man Tony Palladino being a prime example of this, and then the belligerence of their batters; always prepared to knuckle down and put the hard yards in for their team mates. When you add Karl Krikken to these types of players you achieve a very workmanlike side that play within their limitations but play the game very hard. Currently this formula is working for Derbyshire and, as I'm sure all 'success-starved' past Derbyshire players will agree, let's hopes it continues till the end of the season!
• ENGLAND HAVE PLENTY TO CHEER AFTER SERIES TRIUMPH
So the Test series has ended, as I predicted, with a 2-0 win for England over the West Indies.
At times the series was closer than the scoreline suggests but overall England had more quality about their game. However, it was very interesting to watch 'stand-by' seamers, Graham Onions and Steve Finn, bowl. Having been given a chance to show their form, after England opted to rest Anderson and Broad, you would have expected a slightly more polished performance from them both. Of the two you would have to say Onions had the better game but Finn is definitely one for the future. Unfortunately for them both they will find themselves back in the ranks come the first Test against South Africa but if called up I'm certain they will perform well.
The up coming one-day series, however, could be a very close contest. The Windies have Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo back so expect a very close series. All we need now is some sunshine!