Dustin Melton takes three early wickets as Sudbury defeat Mildenhall
Dustin Melton ran through Mildenhall’s top order as pace-setters Sudbury claimed victory in the Suffolk derby on Saturday, to retain their lead in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League.
Melton took three early wickets, to leave Mildenhall floundering on 16 for three, and the visitors never really recovered as they were eventually bowled out for 127 off 46.3 overs.
Sudbury lost early wickets of their own, at one stage looking vulnerable on 15 for three, but club captain Darren Batch (32) and Suffolk county all-rounder Ben Reece (27) steadied the ship by putting on 52 for the fourth wicket.
James O’Brien then contributed a whirlwind half-century, striking five sixes in his 52 not out to see Sudbury to a five-wicket victory, inside 30 overs.
It was the perfect way for Sudbury to bounce back from the disappointment of a first defeat of the season, away at Frinton the previous weekend.
The Friars Street club have now won eight of their first nine fixtures, to remain 26 points clear of defending champions Swardeston, who have won the title for the last five years.
Mildenhall captain Ben Shepperson had won the toss, and elected to bat, but that decision backfired.
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“It was not a bad wicket,” explained Sudbury club captain Batch.
“It had been used before, and so was quite slow. It was difficult to score runs, because the ball did not come onto the bat very quickly.
“But the pitch did not misbehave, and Dustin (Melton) really put them on the back foot with his three early wickets.
“Dustin got rid of their three danger-men at the top of the order, having opened the bowling because of James Poulson’s absence.
“After that, we took regular wickets and managed to keep it very tight. We restricted the number of runs that they scored, and once again we fielded really well as a team.
“That was especially the case with out ground-fielding, which has been a hallmark of our season so far.
“Ben Parker has been the stand-out fielder, and he got an important run out (wicket of Adam Trett),” added Batch.
Melton, now fully recovered from a recent side injury, bowled both opener Joe Reed (3) and experienced Australian Peter Worthington (7), sandwiching the dismissal of Kyle Morrison (4), who was caught behind by wicketkeeper Adam Mansfield, again off Melton’s bowling.
Parker then ran out Trett to leave Mildenhall on 32 for four, a position from which they never really improved.
Matt Allen was the top scorer with 22, in the middle order, together with wicketkeeper Ryan Clark, who made 22 while batting at No. 10.
Melton finished with figures of 15-6-34-3, and the other wickets were spread around between first-team captain Tom Huggins (12-4-30-2), Jonathan Gallagher, Batch, and Reece.
In reply, openers Huggins and Mansfield were both dismissed for four, as was Parker, to leave Sudbury on 15 for three in the face of some good bowling from Tino Best and Kyle Morrison.
But Batch made a patient 32 off 77 balls, aided by Reece’s swift 27 and then O’Brien’s thunderous 52 not out off 33 balls.
“Tino Best bowled well, and both Tom (Huggins) and Ben (Parker) were done by a lack of pace in the pitch,” said Batch.
“Both went through with their shots early, Tom chipping to mid-on (fielder Worthington) and Ben chipping back for a caught-and-bowled.
“Personally, it was nice to be involved in a good partnership with Ben (Reece), who is naturally an attacking batsman. I just set my stall out to stay there.
“ James (O’Brien) then came in and decided to take on their spinners. That plan worked. He hit five sixes, all straight off the spinners.
“He had already done this once before this season, digging us out of a hole when we were struggling on 16 for four at home to Copdock (on June 4).
“James changed the course of the match that day (Sudbury won by four wickets), and on Saturday he produced another important innings for us,” added Batch.
This Saturday, Sudbury enjoy home advantage again when they entertain Horsford, who celebrated a surprise victory over Cambridge Granta last weekend. It was Horsford’s third win of the summer.
Elsewhere, Bury St Edmunds play host to Norwich, in a battle of the bottom two clubs, while Copdock & OI entertain Vauxhall Mallards. Frinton are at home to Burwell, and Mildenhall take on Swardeston at Wamil Way.