Seam bowlers give Suffolk the edge

SUFFOLK'S hopes of retaining the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title were hit by the loss of ace wicket-taker Chris Schofield for their match against Staffordshire at Stone.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK'S hopes of retaining the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title were hit by the loss of ace wicket-taker Chris Schofield for their match against Staffordshire at Stone.

But their seamers came up trumps as Suffolk ended the day in an excellent position, having the home side 96 for nine.

Former England Test leg spinner Schofield, who has helped Suffolk gain maximum bowling bonus points in their previous four games this season, picked up a hamstring injury in a Twenty20 match on Friday.


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Suffolk went into yesterday's three-day game one bowler short as they called up batsman Andrew Mawson to take Schofield's place. Mawson top-scored as Suffolk struggled to gain command in difficult conditions after being put into bat when skipper Phil Caley lost the toss.

Schofield's batting was also missed with Caley's side collecting just one batting bonus point as they were dismissed in 60 overs.

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But seamers Andrew McGarry and Justin Bishop put Suffolk back in the game and if the weather holds, a result looks certain. And if Suffolk gain the 16 points on offer for a victory - plus their five batting and bowling bonus points - they will go into their final match against current leaders Lincolnshire in good shape.

Schofield was playing for a Professional Cricketers' Association side in a four-team tournament that also ironically involved Staffordshire when he suffered his injury while batting. The number of games he has played recently has taken a toll, with Schofield bowling lots of overs for Suffolk and playing on trial for Surrey's second XI.

Looking at yesterday's play, Suffolk director of cricket Kevin Brooks said: “Bowlers have enjoyed the upper hand, but there were also one or two soft dismissals in our innings.

“Staffordshire were unable to gain any foothold when they batted and we are still very much in the game. Our bowlers did well and put the ball in right areas. They made up for the loss of Chris Schofield, and we are in a position where we can move on and gain a win.”

A crowd twice the size of Suffolk's usual home attendance watched in mainly cloudy conditions with Chris Warn and Caley getting into the 20s and the latter running out of partners.

Mawson, who was unavailable for the earlier games of the Minor Counties season, struck seven fours in his 42.

Former England batsman - and Ipswich indoor cricket team member - Kim Barnett was removed by McGarry as wickets fell consistently.

McGarry, who was his usual accurate and aggressive self, said: “If anything the ball was swinging too much. It was a strange wicket with the ball at times bouncing up rather like a tennis ball.”

Bishop came back to take two wickets in two balls in the penultimate over, making full use of the swinging ball.

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