The Norfolk SRA Summer League got under way this week and Cromer made the short journey to North Walsham to take on the home club's third string. The Norfolk SRA have regionalised the third division this summer which has made life easier for teams such as Cromer who are in Division Three North and it means that they are spared long journeys to the other side of Great Yarmouth.
Sadly however the season did not get off to the best possible start as the Walsham team had too much strength in depth and Cromer were well beaten 15-5. With the winter league season having finished on 23rd February Cromer were short of recent competitive match play and although Technical Director, Barry Starling, had supervised several training sessions they proved to be no substitute for the intense pressue of playing matches.
Starling was boosted, for the first time since early October, by the availability of Alex Oliver who was able to put his stand up duties to one side to play the first string match while three of the club's veteran stalwarts John Baker, Martin Sanville and John Chandler filled the second, third and fourth string positions.
Chandler in fact made a promising start in his match against the home captain, Dave Attew, and in a match of few rallies and many drop shots opened up a 2-0 lead. However both his accuracy and his movement then deserted him and the Walsham veteran levelled the match at 2-2 before going on to comfortably win the decisive fifth game 13-2.
Sanville, as always, battled hard in his third string match but was always on the back foot against Matt Dyke as he went down to a straight game defeat while former club champion John Baker also suffered an uncharacteristic 3-0 defeat against former Norfolk junior player Ben Parravani.
Cromer were able to take some consolation from Oliver's performance against Lee West in the first string match. He comfortably won the opening game 13-6 but when he lost the next two looked to be heading for defeat. He fought back well to draw level as he won the fourth game and then in the final game both players had "match balls" before Oliver just edged home 15-13 to win the match 3-2 and give Cromer their one success of the evening.
Afterwards Starling said:"This was a disappointing but fair result. The Walsham team were simply better than us although Alex Oliver was brilliant in the first string match. It is a pity that his commitments don't enable him to play more regularly. Our next match is at home to our friends from Fakenham II so hopefully we will be able to do ourselves justice."
Alex Oliver beat Lee West 13-6 8-13 9-13 13-9 15-13
John Baker lost to Ben Parravani 7-13 6-13 7-13
Martin Sanville lost to Matt Dyke 7-13 6-13 9-13
John Chandler lost to David Attew 14-12 13-10 9-13 10-13 2-13