Fakenham miss key players on first day

Fakenham, under-strength for their opening East Anglian Premier League match of the season, suffered a disappointing home defeat by Saffron Walden. Batting first, Fakenham failed to reach three figures as they were bundled out for 95 after being asked to bat on a strip that produced early movement.

Fakenham, under-strength for their opening East Anglian Premier League match of the season, suffered a disappointing home defeat by Saffron Walden.

Batting first, Fakenham failed to reach three figures as they were bundled out for 95 after being asked to bat on a strip that produced early movement.

The visitors' bowling attack was too much to cope with as Darren Cousins claimed five for 44 and Tim Smith was in miserly form taking three for four from nine overs with seven maidens. Phil Gray made 22, Sanjaya Rodrigo 21 and Will Dunger 15.

Fakenham tried gamely to make it difficult for Saffron Walden with the ball as former Norfolk bowler Ian Slegg picked up three for 12 bowling off his shortened run-up.


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But the Essex side made it over the line for the loss of five wickets with opener Tom George hitting 36 not out as the visitors collected 25 points to Fakenham's two.

After their failure to sign Indika de Saram, Fakenham have recruited another Sri Lankan Test player, Gayan Wijekoon, as their overseas star and skipper Sean Cooper has high hopes for the new arrival: 'We'd like him to consolidate our side with the experience he has as a bowler and a batsman,' said Cooper.

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'He's an all-rounder who can coach both aspects of the game and help the youngsters develop and that is crucial for us.'

If he manages to beat the volcano dust problem, he should arrive in this country today (Thursday).

Fakenham showed a marked improvement last year upon the two previous campaigns, when they had finished rock bottom, and their second team also celebrated winning Norfolk Alliance Division Three.

Cooper added: 'We are really looking forward to this season after the success the club had as a whole last year. All four senior sides had good seasons.'

Wicketkeeper Ben Harvey has returned from Great Witchingham, but Cooper will have to make do with a depleted side for the early part of the summer, with a string of his young players away at university and others suffering injuries.

Harvey will miss the early games, along with Joe Pipkin and Daniel Hubbard, while James Brown will not return from a new job in Amsterdam until later in the summer.

Norfolk wicketkeeper Stephen Gray should be available despite his studies and Fakenham are also looking forward to seeing more wickets from Angus Stuart, whose debut season at the club last year was hampered by injury. New signing from Horsford Luke Findlay could be out long term with a knee injury.

Everyone should be more availble next year, the third of the club's

three-year plan to build a title-challenging side.

On Saturday, Fakenham visit Bury St Edmunds. The Alliance Division Two side entertains Saxlingham 1pm.

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