Bury beat Cambridge Granta to give themselves renewed hope of staying up

Sean Cooper, who took two for 20 off six overs to help Bury St Edmunds to a vital win over Cambridge

Sean Cooper, who took two for 20 off six overs to help Bury St Edmunds to a vital win over Cambridge Granta. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Bury St Edmunds have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding a relegation play-off, something that was almost unthinkable a fortnight ago, following a third victory of the season over Cambridge Granta on Saturday.

Sean Park, in action with the ball, skippered Bury St Edmunds to a big victory over Cambridge Granta

Sean Park, in action with the ball, skippered Bury St Edmunds to a big victory over Cambridge Granta at The Victory Ground on Saturday. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

Out-of-sorts Bury had looked down and out a few weeks ago, sitting rock bottom of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League with just one victory from their first 15 fixtures.

But that position of misery has been transformed into a position of hope, by back-to-back victories at local rivals Mildenhall and now against visiting Granta.

Sean Park’s men dominated in an impressive win by 115 runs at the Victory Ground, helped by a fine 74 from Ben Whittaker at No. 3 and then some top-notch bowling from Alastair Allchin, who claimed superb figures of 10-0-32-4 to help skittle out Cambridge.

Although the hosts felt that they had a chance, when making 211 for eight off their 50 overs, it still looked as though Granta would be favourites to get the runs.

But instead, the visitors subsided to 96 all out to give Bury renewed hope of safeguarding East Anglian Premier League cricket for another season.

Their cause was helped by second-from-bottom Norwich losing by 64 runs against Norfolk rivals Horsford, so cutting the gap between Bury and Norwich to 31 points, with five matches remaining.

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And the two clubs meet in a crunch game at Postwick this Saturday, in what could be a bottom-place decider.

Certainly, Bury cannot afford to lose this weekend, otherwise their cause would appear desperate again with the games running out.

“We have a little momentum, and some confidence now,” insisted Bury captain, Park, after this latest success.

“This weekend is a must-win game for us. If we lose, then that is basically it for us because the other clubs are too far distant to catch.

“If we do win, then at least it gives us a chance of overhauling Norwich. It means that if we were to win another game, and they lose one, then we could sneak three or four points ahead of them.

“It’s a massive game, and to be honest I am surprised that Norwich are down there, because they have a very good side with a couple of good professionals and some very experienced players.

“We have already got more points than we had at this stage last season, but all the other clubs seem to be beating each other, so they have more points as well.

“A few weeks ago, all I was saying was that we wanted to get a few wins to give us some momentum going into the end-of-season play-off game, rather than going into it having been hammered every week.

“We have managed to do that,” added Park.

Granta captain Lewys Hill won the toss and elected to field, but they were pegged back by an excellent 75-run partnership for the second wicket between Tom Curran and Max Whittaker.

Opener Curran made 41, off 56 balls, while teenager Whittaker hung around to compile a well-judged 77 off 125 deliveries, with 13 fours.

The hosts did lose wickets in quick succession through the middle order, with overseas player Murray Commins (18) and skipper Park (6) both being caught behind by wicketkeeper Chris Pepper off Ben Claydon,

But Sean Cooper (20 not out) and James McKinney (12 not out) added 30 runs for the ninth wicket to take the total beyond 200.

Allchin then took charge with the ball, in harness with veteran Cooper. Bury’s new ball attack quickly reduced Cambridge to two for three, and then 47 for five, and victory was completed off just 26.2 overs.

An inspired Allchin removed four of the top six order batsmen, two of them caught by wicketkeeper Alfie Marston and the other two caught by Commins in the slips, and former Burwell all-rounder Allchin also ran out Claydon for good measure.

Cooper took two for 20 off six overs, while spinner McKinney (5-1-24-2) and Park (4.2-0-8-1) ensured that there would by no Cambridge recovery.

“Max (Whittaker) and Ali (Allchin) were the stars for us,” confirmed Park.

“It was good to see Tom Curran get some runs at the top of the order, and Max has a lot of potential. We were under pressure a little when losing a couple of key wickets in the middle, including Murray (Commins) and myself, and I thought that perhaps 211 might not be quite enough.

“We knew that we would have to bowl as well as we did against Mildenhall, to give ourselves a chance, and Ali (Allchin) ended up bowling superbly.

“The pitch suited him. He got the ball to swing, and got some extra bounce from the top end. He put the ball in the right areas and found the right length, while their batsmen were happy to play aggressively, rather than to bide their time,” added Park.

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