Sudbury crash to defeat at Mildenhall but stay top, by one point!
- Credit: Archant
Sudbury crashed to only their fourth defeat of the season, at the hands of Suffolk rivals Mildenhall by 55 runs on Saturday, but they still have the slenderest of leads going into the final two fixtures of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League campaign.
It was a disappointing day for Sudbury, the defending champions, and they cannot afford another slip-up during the final fortnight of the summer.
Swardeston are chasing hard, and their latest win, by seven wickets over Great Witchingham, has seen them cut the gap from 21 points to just one point.
However, that could still be a crucial point because if Sudbury manage to win their final two games, which are both at home, against Cambridge Granta and Norwich, then they will successfully retain their title, regardless of how Swardeston fare in their last two matches.
Swardeston, title winners for five years running between 2012 and 2016, are unlikely to slip up, so there is now no margin for error for the Suffolk club.
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Sudbury captain, Tom Huggins, won the toss and elected to field at Wamil Way, and the table-topping visitors were satisfied to bowl out Mildenhall for a modest total of 180 in 48.2 overs.
But Sudbury then suffered a dramatic batting collapse at the start of their innings, slumping to 14 for four and then 56 for six as Mildenhall’s opening pair of Tom Rash and Jack Loveday sliced through the top order.
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Sudbury rallied through a half-century by Kenny Moulton-Day, and 37 from Ben Reece at No. 8, but in the end they were a well beaten team, dismissed for just 125 off 28 overs.
Darren Batch, Sudbury’s club captain, explained: “It’s been our way this season to put teams into bat, keep them down to a reasonable score and then chase down the runs.
“And we did keep Mildenhall down to a reasonable score, on what was not an easy pitch to score runs on. It was a bit slow.
“So at the halfway point, we were happy.
“We were chasing a total of 180, and we were feeling quietly confident of getting the runs.
“The damage was done in those first 10 overs of our innings.
“Their opening pair (Rash and Loveday) bowled very well with the new ball. They put us on the back foot, and taking early wickets gives any side a lot of confidence.
“We were reduced to 14 for four. It’s a key period of the game, facing the new ball. Our top order needed to see out this period, but their two bowlers got the better of us. We do bat very deep, and Kenny (Moulton-Day) again batted well for us. Following on from his 61 against Swardeston the previous weekend, he made 50-odd this week.
“It shows the strength of depth that we do have in our batting.
“But we cant keep being 14 for four, or 50-odd for six, because it puts us too much on the back foot and puts too much pressure on those later batsmen coming in,” added Batch.
Sudbury, though, do remain in pole position to retain a title which they won for the first-ever time last year, due to the fact that they claimed maximum bowling points at Mildenhall.
“We have two games left, and they are both at home, which will hopefully give us an advantage,” continued Batch.
We must improve our batting, and clear our minds. It’s a fairly straightforward situation now – win our last two games and we will win the title. There is no need to wonder about bonus points anymore.
“We’ve got to win both matches, as simple as that.
“We have Cambridge Granta this weekend, and then Norwich on the last weekend.
“Norwich will almost certainly have something to play for as well, so that will be interesting!” added Batch, with reference to Norwich’s plight at the other end of the table.
James Stamatis top-scored with 54 in Mildenhall’s total of 180, after captain Tom Rash had struck seven boundaries in his knock of 41 at the top of the innings.
Ben Shepperson also made 26 at No. 5, before he was trapped leg before by Huggins, one of his four victims – Huggins posted figures of 10-1-31-4.
Opening bowler James Poulson then returned to clean up the tail with three for 31 off 9.2 overs.
But Rash (9-0-25-5) and Loveday (5-0-20-2) then took charge with the ball, as Sudbury lost their top five batsmen for single figures, with first-change bowler Steve Graham also taking two for 23 off his six overs.
Loveday bowled both skipper Huggins (1) and Suffolk county batsman Martyn Cull (0), while Rash accounted for Suffolk captain Adam Mansfield (5) and Batch (7).
Moulton-Day (53 off 49 balls) and Reece (37 off 41) added 48 for the seventh wicket, but that merely prolonged the agony, Rash returning to get the vital wicket of Moulton-Day.