Catley delighted by first Suffolk ton

TIM Catley banished a few demons when he struck his first century for Suffolk on the first day of the Minor Counties Championship game against Hertfordshire at Long Marston yesterday.

By Elvin King

TIM Catley banished a few demons when he struck his first century for Suffolk on the first day of the Minor Counties Championship game against Hertfordshire at Long Marston yesterday.

The 28-year-old Bury St Edmunds batsman had previously been out for 99 when leg before wicket against Herts at Mildenhall seven years ago.

And his form this season has been such that he must have been wondering how long he could keep his county place.

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“I never doubted my ability, but there are one or two other batsmen waiting in the wings for their chance,” said Catley, who began his career with Exning.

“It is how many runs you score that counts and on a good wicket at Ransomes Sports Ground in the last match I failed to make double-figures.

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“I had a bit of a sticky spell in my eighties and could not get the ball off the square for a while, but with Chris Warn hitting fours at the other end I was not put under too much pressure.

“I was waiting for a few loose balls and when they came I was able to hit two fours in quick succession to reach 100.

“The same thing happened when approaching 50 when the spinner sent down some poor balls and I was able to move from 38 to 50 in one over.

“I was wondering whether I would break three figures and didn't know how many more chances I would get following my poor run in club cricket this season.

“Having my wife Karen, daughter Emma (five) and son Ryan (two) watching along with my parents made it extra special for me.”

Suffolk enjoyed the best of the opening day in a match they need to win to move into the top three in the Eastern Division table.

The start of play was held up for 45 minutes because of rain, and there was drizzle in the air when the first ball was bowled.

Phil Caley, in his 203rd Minor Counties game for the county, won the toss and decided to bat and he led a side that included six Bury St Edmunds players in the top seven.

In total, Bury have seven men in the side with the other four not playing club cricket in Suffolk - Caley for St Albans, Chris Schofield (Ormskirk), Chris Swallow (Clacton) and Paul King (Teddington).

Tom Huggins began aggressively as usual and with Nick Lee put on 32 before the home side struck twice in two overs.

Huggins was bowled when playing a rather extravagant shot, and in the 10th over Lee was bowled off his legs. The latter has been in fine form with a 100 at Lord's last week, plus 248 for Bury, so there was an understandable look of surprise on his face as the leg stump was struck.

It was four overs later before the visitors scored another run, but then Schofield and Tobias Hembry began raising the pace with Hembry striking a six before being well caught low down at mid-off.

Catley came to the wicket in need of runs after a rather barren run of scores and the possibility of losing his place in the side.

His confidence had been lifted by some good club scores, and he set about manufacturing a century partnership with Schofield.

During the lunch interval former Suffolk stalwart Simon Clements met up with the team. The left-hander, who scored 9,219 runs for Suffolk in 184 matches between 1974 and 1998, is still playing high-grade cricket, captaining North Mymms in the Hertfordshire area.

Catley was dropped at slip when on 39 - the ball bouncing off the chest of the fielder - and he lost Schofield when the former England Test player had again looked a class act with an error-free 59.

On 80, Catley had another life when put down off a hard drive in the covers, and he understandably slowed down somewhat before striking two successive fours to take him into three figures.

The sun had come out by this time with clouds now high in the sky, although the strengthening wind was making bowling from one end a chore.

Chris Warn batted brightly and skilfully and when he reached a deserved 50 it meant all the Suffolk top six have struck half-centuries in the Minor Counties this year.

Warn was bowled going for a big hit and after carrying on the good work for a while Catley perished when well caught on the boundary.

Suffolk had by now almost gained their maximum four batting bonus points, and they raised the tempo in the latter stages as Justin Bishop, Caley and Swallow landed some lusty blows - with Swallow dismissed off the final delivery having struck 10 runs from the previous two balls.

As Hertfordshire began their reply Andrew McGarry bowled Steve Cordingley when bowling with the wind at his back and play finished at 7.50pm with Suffolk happy with their day.

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