League leaders Swardeston beat Saffron Walden

Alistair Russell plays the ball through the leg-side . Picture: Jamie Pluck

Alistair Russell plays the ball through the leg-side . Picture: Jamie Pluck - Credit: Archant

An unbeaten 92 from Stephen Gray led league leaders Swardeston to an eight-wicket victory over Saffron Walden in the East Anglian Premier League.

Gray’s highest knock of the season saw the hosts topple Walden’s first innings 178 with a score of 179-2.

He hit 10 fours and three maximums in a 113-ball innings that took Swardeston away from imminent danger at 0-1 and towards a 41-point cushion over second-placed Cambridge Granta.

Walden skipper Joe Barrs had the defending champions in trouble with just his second ball, beating Peter Lambert all ends up to send him back to the pavilion for a duck. Walden were unable to hammer home the advantage and a 96-run partnership between Jordan Taylor and Gray swung the momentum in Swardeston’s favour.

Jack Ormsby briefly gave Walden something to cheer about with the wicket of Taylor, caught by Tom Picton-Turberville, but Gray and the new man in, Lewis Denmark, eased Swardeston to victory with an 83 run stand that came off 81 balls and in just 48 minutes.

It completed a torrid game for Walden in which only Alistair Russell found success with the bat.

For the second week running, the wicket keeper was Walden’s top batsman. He scored 74 in last week’s draw with Great Witchingham and went even better against Swardeston, amassing 85 runs off 116 balls, his fifth half-century of the season.

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His effort was in vain, however, as only three other batsmen reached double figures - Michael Turner (20), Thomas Philp (12) and Ben Waring (13).

Russell, in at three, held the innings together but was able to find any partners who could stick around long enough to make a match-winning stand. He was eventually the ninth man out and Swardeston removed the last batter, Waring, in the next over, the 57th, to give themselves a modest chase which Gray made look easy.

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