Joe Reed blasts unbeaten 97 as Mildenhall topple leaders Sudbury
Mildenhall have soared to the top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League table, following a thunderous seven-wicket win at defending champions Sudbury on Saturday.
The Wamil Way club must certainly be considered as serious title contenders, having now beaten both former champions Swardeston and current holders Sudbury during the first half of this summer.
Mildenhall had kick-started their campaign with a two-wicket win over Swardeston, who had won the league for five years in a row between 2012 and 2016, and two months later they recorded an even more impressive result with a dominant display against local rivals Sudbury, at Friars Street.
Peter Worthington (6-1-22-4) and Tom Rash (8-1-29-3) starred with the ball, and Joe Reed (97 not out) dazzled with the bat, as Mildenhall edged one point clear at the top of the table, with Sudbury in second and Swardeston, who lost at Great Witchingham, in third.
Home captain Rash led the way by both winning the toss, and then taking three early wickets, as Sudbury toiled after being put into bat by their hosts.
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Sudbury’s top four batsmen were back in the pavilion with just 24 runs on the board, and despite a top score of 48 from Ben Parker in the middle order, the visitors eventually subsided to a below-par 161 all out. Their innings was concluded inside 37 overs.
Rash set the tone by taking the first three wickets, all of them key scalps. He removed skipper Tom Huggins (10), Suffolk county captain Adam Mansfield (0) and Sudbury club captain Darren Batch (2) in rapid succession, all of them caught behind the wicket, to leave the visitors on 14 for three.
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Huggins and Batch were caught by wicketkeeper Edward Finnes, while Mansfield was ensnared by Nick Miaolo at first slip.
That quickly became 24 for four when Kenny Moulton-Day, who had made a good 37 in the previous weekend’s win at Swardeston, was caught by Maiolo off Hugo Douglas.
Parker and Timothy Johnston engineered a mini-recovery with a fifth-wicket stand of 43, before overseas player Johnston became the first of Worthington’s four victims, bowled for a swift 27, which included six fours.
Dan Poole contributed 28 at No. 8, while a watchful Parker shared an eighth-wicket partnership of 46 with Joe Harvey (28), after Poole’s departure had left the score on 113 for seven.
But Parker’s exit, trapped leg before by Worthington for a patient 48 (off 83 balls), enabled Mildenhall to clean up the tail.
Set a modest target of 162 for victory, the home side were home inside 30 overs, with seven wickets in hand.
An in-form Jonny Gallagher had opener Matt Allen (4) caught behind by Mansfield early on, but a superb stand of 105 between Reed and Maiolo (48) effectively ended the match as a contest.
Reed struck a fantastic 97 not out off 82 balls to guide his side to a swift victory, hitting four sixes and 15 boundaries in his excellent, rip-roaring knock.
Acting skipper Rash, who has taken over the captaincy duties from Ben Shepperson for a short stint, due to work commitments, is not getting carried away, but he believes that Mildenhall are in with a shout of winning the title.
“We are in the mix,” admitted all-rounder Rash.
“We’ve now beaten both Swardeston and Sudbury, so we are serious title contenders, but there are four or five teams up there. It’s very open, which is good for the league.
“Frinton are going well, and they have already beaten us, while Great Witchingham, who we face this weekend, are a very difficult team to beat, particularly in this long format of the game. We don’t fear them, but they are a hard team to beat.”
Rash admitted that it was a big toss for him to win on Saturday.
“It was a crucial toss to win, and I think it’s fair to say that we enjoyed the better of the conditions throughout the day,” explained Rash.
“It did a little bit with the new ball, and I managed to get the first three wickets, all with edges. Both Tom Huggins and Darren Batch have scored around 500 runs already this season, and they are two of the best players in the league, so they were big wickets.
“Once the hardness and the shine on the ball wore off, it became harder for us, but it’s great to have a player of Peter Worthington’s experience to come on as first change. He gives us the control that we need.
“We had a bit of luck at the start of our innings. Both Joe (Reed) and Nick (Miaolo) were dropped, before Joe then showed what a devastating player he can be.
“When he gets going, Joe is one of the most destructive batsmen in the league, and it was thrilling to watch him play. The ball went everywhere, no matter who was bowling. Joe punished anything, and when he comes off, he wins you matches,” added Rash.