Mildenhall sit proudly on top of table after win at Bury St Edmunds
Mildenhall are now the only unbeaten side in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, after their five-wicket win at West Suffolk rivals Bury St Edmunds in a low-scoring encounter at The Victory Ground on Saturday.
Defending champions Sudbury lost their unbeaten tag, when suffering a surprise heavy home defeat at the hands of Horsford, and Mildenhall took full advantage by notching a fourth win from five fixtures – all second round matches were cancelled due to the wet weather.
Mildenhall captain, Ben Shepperson, won the toss and elected to field, and his bowlers responded by dismissing Bury for a mere 93 in 37.3 overs.
The hosts, ironically, had enjoyed a good start to their innings, advancing to 50 for the loss of just one wicket – more often than not, in recent seasons, Bury have tended to lose a clatter of early wickets.
On Saturday, though, Bury failed to make the most of a promising start, crashing in dramatic fashion as they lost their last nine wickets for the addition of just 43 runs, and last eight wickets for only 26 runs, despite a half-century from their overseas player Murray Commins.
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South African batsman Commins made 50 off 79 balls, with seven boundaries, before he was the ninth wicket to fall with the score on 92, run out by Murtaza Hussain.
Veteran spinner Hussain took three for 20 off 11.4 overs, while opening bowler Tom Rash recorded superb figures of 10-4-18-2, and Nick Maiolo weighed in with two for eight off five overs at the end of the innings.
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Mildenhall initially struggled in their reply, losing their top five batsmen with just 61 on the board, but Rash (30 not out) and Matt Allen (15 not out) saw them home without any further mishaps.
They reached their target inside 27 overs, to sit proudly on top of the table.
“It’s a good feeling to be top of the table, and of course we would like to stay there,” insisted skipper Shepperson.
“But we know that we cannot afford any slip-ups. There’s a long way to go and things can change very quickly.
“We are at home to Copdock & Old Ipswichian this weekend, and they have some good players, with several promising youngsters, so we will need to get rid of their dangerous players early.”
Referring to Saturday’s victory, Suffolk county batsman Shepperson explained: “It was a good toss to win, because there was a lot of grass on the wicket, so it looked like conditions were going to be tough for batting.
“Bury made a good start and got themselves to 67 for two at one point.
“We bowled quite well in those early overs , but perhaps didn’t get the rewards until later. Once we got the third and fourth wickets, we bowled really well and applied the pressure on them.
“Bury’s batsmen then found it very difficult to get the ball away, and although Murray Commins batted well for his 50, I thought we bowled very well against him, while also keeping him away from the strike for long periods.
“He did score 12 or 13 off one over, but we controlled him quite well after that.”
Bury’s opening attack of Alastair Allchin and Dominic Manthorpe applied the pressure themselves with some penetrative bowling early on in Mildenhall’s reply.
The quartet of Joe Reed, Ben Curran, Miaolo and Shepperson were all dismissed for single-figure scores, and when Manthorpe bowled former Mistley all-rounder James Stamatis (16), the visitors were in some difficulty at 61 for five.
Allchin took three for 20 off nine overs, while Manthorpe claimed figures of 11-3-31-2, but Rash and Matt Allen put on an unbeaten 34 to see the Wamil Way club to victory.
“We knew it would be tricky early on in our innings,” continued Shepperson.
“Every nick that we got seemed to go to a fielder, who took the catch. That sometimes happens early on, but James (Stamatis) made an important 16 (off 31 balls) to see off the new ball for us. He played an important role.
“Tom (Rash) batted really well, and he got good support from Matt Allen to see us through to what in the end was quite a comfortable win,” added Shepperson.
Mildenhall are 18 points clear at the top of the table, after five games, which is a healthy advantage at this early stage of the season.
But Swardeston, who won five titles on the bounce before last season, are well positioned in second, and defending champions Sudbury are also hot on their heels in third.
Bury, thanks to their victory over Vauxhall Mallards on week three, are nine points clear of bottom club Norwich. Bury are away at Cambridge Granta at Clare College Sports Ground this Saturday.