Brown backs three-day game to survive

IPSWICH stages one of its main cricket games of the year from Sunday when Suffolk entertain Cumberland in a three-day Minor Counties Championship game at Ransomes Sports Club, Sidegate Avenue starting at 11am.

Elvin King

IPSWICH stages one of its main cricket games of the year from Sunday when Suffolk entertain Cumberland in a three-day Minor Counties Championship game at Ransomes Sports Club, Sidegate Avenue starting at 11am.

Only the most optimistic follower of the county's fortunes would anticipate a crowd of more than 200 on any of the days.

But Andy Brown, the coach who played a leading part with Suffolk enjoying much success over the last decade, does not anticipate any change to the Championship format even though the expense of Cumberland travelling to East Anglia with three nights in a hotel is considerable.

However, he does see Phil Caley's side becoming involved in the rapidly expanding Twenty20 version of the game - and attracting large crowds along the way.

“There are plenty of moves afoot to reinvent the game,” said Brown. “But there will always be a place for the three-day game at Suffolk's level and there is a niche for it.

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“Players will always have to learn the longer game.

“But I can see a time when Suffolk join forces with say Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and play Twenty20 tournaments at first Ipswich, then Norwich and Cambridge.

“Three matches in one day would pack the fans in and would, I am sure, become a financial winner.”

Brown has backed his old county to beat Cumberland. He brought professionalism to Suffolk working alongside director of cricket Kevin Brooks culminating in a KO Trophy victory at Lord's last August.

He is now coach at Derbyshire where the first class county have already won more matches this year than they did in the whole of 2007.

Brown looks back with fondness at his time with Suffolk having resigned in the winter and been replaced by ex-England pace bowler Paul Jarvis.

“I miss the lads,” said Brown. “They are a great bunch and if the professionals worked half as hard as the Suffolk boys did they would reap huge rewards.”

And looking ahead to the Cumberland game after Suffolk's first Championship fixture at Bedfordshire was rained off without a ball being bowled, Brown added: “The three-day game will see the best of Suffolk.

“They have the bowlers to bowl sides out twice and if Andrew McGarry finds his best form I would back them strongly. If the batsmen can then score enough runs then Phil Caley's side could celebrate a victory.”

Suffolk were beaten in three of their four group KO Trophy matches this season as their defence of the trophy ended at the earliest stage.

Brown is loving his full-time involvement at Derby where he says his players are just as a delight to work with.

He added: “We have already won more matches than the county did in the whole of last season.

“We are very hopeful we can win enough matches in our Twenty20 group to qualify through.”

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