County Badminton Report
Norfolk county badminton first team travelled to Grays in Essex for their opening match of the season. Last time Norfolk played Essex II was two years ago and the corresponding fixture ended in a 9-6 victory for Essex. With 3 first choice players missing Norfolk called on veteran Eric Plane to come out of retirement after 6 years and second team captain Alex Wyett as replacements.
In a freezing cold hall with poor visibility at one end, Norfolk was hoping for a good start. The mens’ singles were halved with Norfolk number one Daryl Jacobs winning in straight sets against Essex stalwart Danny Plant. Wyett didn’t fare quite as well being beaten by a very strong upcoming youngster. With the ladies singles players Julie Pike and Louise Culyer both down by a set things were not looking great. However, both ladies battled through well to win in the third end.
Essex 1 – 3 Norfolk
For the mens’ doubles Norfolk’s first pairing of Jacobs & Matt Howes found the experienced Essex first pair difficult and lost in 3 close ends, meanwhile captain Justin Gerrard paired up with Plane and also lost in 3 to a very powerful second pair. In the crossover games Gerrard & Plane were unlucky to lose out to the first pair 23-21 in the second end. Norfolk’s only victory in the mens’ doubles came when Jacobs & Howes overcame the second pair 21-12, 23-21.
Essex 4 – 4 Norfolk
Norfolk fared much better in the ladies doubles where first pair Pike & Culyer comfortably beat both Essex pairs while second pair Katherine Cooper & Toni Sturgeon were unlucky to lose out to the stronger Essex pair 19-21, 21-16, 21-23. They then went on to comfortably beat the other Essex pair in straight sets.
Essex 5 – 7 Norfolk
With only the mixed doubles remaining, usually one of Norfolk’s stongest events, the away team were fairly confident of getting the one game they required for the victory. After one end first pair Jacobs & Cooper were down whilst second and third pairs Gerrard & Pike and Plane & Culyer respectively were both up. After the second end all three games were level setting up a tense finish to the match. Plane & Culyer were first to finish unfortunately losing, then Gerrard & Pike finished losing out 22-20 in the third. This left the match score at 7-7 and with Jacobs & Cooper’s match at 20-20 in the final end the match was on a knife edge. Thanks to some excellent play and a wonderful shot that came off Cooper’s frame and hit the line the away team were jubilant.
Final Score: Essex 7-8 Norfolk.
Victory in a very close match that including 4 extremely close games (3 of which went to Essex) meant Norfolk’s first team got off to a great start for their 2012/13 campaign.