Sudbury undone by a combination of the rain and Great Witchingham

Darren Batch, who scored 72 not out for Sudbury in their defeat at Great Witchingham. Picture: NICK

Darren Batch, who scored 72 not out for Sudbury in their defeat at Great Witchingham. Picture: NICK GARNHAM - Credit: Archant

Just two points separate the top three teams in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, following a rain-affected 16th round of matches on Saturday.

Long-time leaders Sudbury have now been joined at the top by Great Witchingham, following the Suffolk club’s unfortunate defeat at their Norfolk rivals, while defending champions Swardeston are only two points adrift in third spot.

It is therefore boiling up into a fantastic finale, especially as Great Witchingham have to travel to Swardeston this Saturday for a big showdown.

Furthermore, Sudbury entertain Swardeston on the final day of the campaign, so there should be many more twists and turns to come before the season ends on September 19.

The rain was a key factor in what was only Sudbury’s third defeat of the season, last weekend.

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Club captain Darren Batch was well set on 72 not out, and Sudbury poised for a late onslaught when rain intervened to leave them marooned on 158 for three, off 51.4 overs.

A delay of nearly three overs really played into the hands of Great Witchingham, whose captain Sam Arthurton had won an important toss and elected to field first.

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The hosts had a minimum of 36 overs, to knock off the runs, and there was no real surprise that they achieved their goal with 3.3 overs in hand, by a seven-wicket margin.

“The rain arrived at just the wrong time for us,” rued club captain Batch.

“We had set up our innings, with several wickets in hand to launch a big assault during the last 12 overs, but then the rain came.

“We were hoping to score about 90 off the last 12 overs, which would have got us up to a total of about 240, which would have been a challenging total.

“Great Witchingham is always a nice place to bat, and I enjoyed getting amongst the runs with young Keelan Waldock (30 runs) also playing himself in well.

“Keelan has settled into the first team and has shown good progress, which should stand him in good stead for the years to come,” added Batch.

First-team skipper Tom Huggins had dominated an opening partnership of 48 with 16-year-old Waldock.

Suffolk county stalwart Huggins made 32 off 55 balls, with four boundaries, before he was caught by captain Arthurton off James Spelman.

Waldock and Batch then added 91 for the second wicket, in a patient partnership that steered the visitors into a reasonably strong position.

Waldock’s stoic effort was eventually ended with the score on 135, the opener having faced 140 deliveries for his innings of 30. He was again ensnared by Arthuton off the bowling of James Hale.

The hard-hitting Dustin Melton only lasted two balls, before he was run out, but Batch (72 not out off 104 balls) and Ben Parker (13no) had added 20 for the fourth wicket – each of them hit a six – and were preparing to cut loose when the rain intervened.

In reply, Great Witchingham were soon in trouble on nine for two, until Arthurton (80 not out) and the aggressive William Rogers (64) guided the home side to victory.

Billy Moulton-Day bowled Spelman (2), while No. 3 Hale (1) was caught by Ben Reece off Huggins, who had opened the bowling with Moulton-Day.

But Sudbury could not make any further early inroads.

Rogers lost no time in scoring 64 off 67 balls, with a six and five fours, until he was caught by wicketkeeper Adam Mansfield off Melton.

By then, though, Great Witchingham were only 27 runs short of their victory target.

Arthurton was still there at the end, accumulating his 80 off 102 deliveries with a six and nine fours.

“We lost nearly three hours to rain, and it was always going to be difficult to avoid defeat in such a short run-chase. The odds always favour the batting team, in those sort of circumstances,” continued Batch.

“It was a good batting wicket, and we certainly didn’t help ourselves by dropping a couple of catches. We dropped both Arthurton and Rogers.

“So now we are both level on points, with Swardeston only two points behind.

“It’s a three-horse race, so there is everything to play for over the closing weeks of the season,” added Batch.

Sudbury host bottom club Bury St Edmunds at Friars Street this Saturday, as the format switches back to the 50-overs-a-side, rather than the longer form of the game. The followi

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