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James Vandepeer puts in an all-round effort to boost Sawston & Babraham’s East Anglian Premier League title bid

James Vandepeer in action for Sawston & Babraham. Picture: Chris Worrall
James Vandepeer in action for Sawston & Babraham. Picture: Chris Worrall

James Vandepeer is rolling on the crest of a bowling wave and is determined to help Sawston & Babraham see out the season in style.

The 23-year-old has formed a lethal opening partnership with Mark Smith which has played no small part in propelling the Rams to the top of the Read Brothers East Anglian Premier League table.

Working in tandem, Vandepeer has been frustrating batsmen at one end, while Smith has been making the breakthrough at the other.

“At the start of the year it was a bit different because I wasn’t getting that many wickets. I was just tying up an end,” he said.

“To be honest, this year, it has been great to open with Smudgey. We had sort of done it before but this year has been the first we’ve been an opening bowling partnership for the whole season.

“When we’re both bowling really well, it must be ridiculously hard for a batsman to try to get any runs. The last few games I’ve managed to nip in and get some wickets which is nice, rather than just tie up one end.

“I think both of us have done so well this year, especially him. He has gone on and started playing for Cambs first team which is great, I’m so pleased for him.

“I’ve really enjoyed bowling with him, and it’s been a great season so far – hopefully we can go on and win it.”

It is not as if Vandepeer has not been among the wickets though.

He claimed a five-for haul against Bury St Edmunds recently, and took his overall tally to 28 for the season with two more against Cambridge last weekend.

“I think it’s been the best bowling year I’ve ever had,” he said.

“Going into every game, I feel a lot stronger and I definitely feel that my bowling has been really consistent.”

Vandepeer is no stranger to the bat, either.

He scored 50 not out opening at the top of the order against Bury St Edmunds, but the opportunities have been more limited this season, with the return of Australian Matt Hague.

“Last year, in the short season, I opened the batting because our overseas Haguey wasn’t around,” said Vandepeer.

“I got 30s and 40s, and then this year I haven’t really been able to bat that much, I’ve been batting No 10.

“I love to bat. I’m not the typical opening bowler who can’t bat. I feel like I can handle myself when I bat and when I get the opportunity I like to take it and I really enjoy it.”

Running his own landscaping business had made it difficult to get to training at times, but Vandepeer puts the special formula for Sawston & Babraham’s form down to the team environment.

“The way we play as a team with our group of lads that we have, I think you just play well as there is such a good atmosphere,” he said.

“Working with each other there is that strong unit, it makes you play a lot harder for each other, and I think that is where it has come from – wanting to do well for each other, wanting to play well and do as well as we can really.”

James Vandepeer in action for Sawston & Babraham. Picture: Chris Worrall
James Vandepeer in action for Sawston & Babraham. Picture: Chris Worrall

Vandepeer is now in his third season with the Rams.

He played his junior cricket with Mildenhall, and then switched to home village Chippenham, before having a season with Great Shelford.

But the overall feel of things at the Spicers Sports Ground has made a big impression.

“It’s the first club I’ve been to where everyone is so involved with each other, and everyone wants the best for you,” said Vandepeer.

“Everyone at Sawston is so welcoming, so inviting and we’re sort of just one massive family really which is just fantastic.

“When we’re playing at home, you get some of the other teams coming up to watch and there is usually a good crowd up there.

“It’s the best club I’ve ever been involved with and hopefully I will be there for a few more years.”

He added: “It’s the first season properly in the EAPL, and to be at the stage where we are at the moment where we’re in a position to win it is incredible.

“But it wouldn’t happen without all the hard work behind the scenes.”

Sawston & Babraham’s charge to the EAPL title suffered a delay with a three-wicket defeat to Cambridge last weekend.

Opener Aaron Thomason top-scored with 74, with Vandepeer hitting 23, as Sawston & Babraham were stopped on 239 for 9.

Henry Campbell took three for 45 and Lewys Hill claimed three for 58.

Johnny Atkinson then struck 72 and Daminda Ranaweera smashed 65 as Cambridge reached 240 for 7 with a ball to spare.

Sawston & Babraham still have a 36-run advantage over second-placed Swardeston with two games remaining.

Burwell & Exning suffered an eight-wicket defeat to Mildenhall.

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