Sudbury bounce back to top spot with win at Cambridge Granta
Sudbury returned to the top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League table, thanks to a comfortable six-wicket win at Cambridge Granta, coupled with defeats for previous leaders Mildenhall and fellow high-fliers Swardeston.
Mildenhall were soundly beaten by 95 runs at Great Witchingham, while Swardeston, champions for five years in a row between 2012 and 2016, suffered a surprise loss by a big margin of 148 runs at second-from-bottom Vauxhall Mallards.
Over at Clare College, Sudbury were always in the box seat as they bounced back in impressive fashion to the previous weekend’s seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Suffolk rivals Mildenhall.
Captain Tom Huggins led from the front, with ball and bat, supported by Dustin Melton’s excellent fast bowling, and fellow opener Adam Mansfield’s dominant batting.
After Huggins had won the toss and elected to field, Sudbury restricted their mid-table hosts to a below-par 204 for nine off 64 overs.
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Melton was the chief early destroyer, on his way to figures of 16-2-78-4, while spinner Huggins stifled Granta’s middle order by taking four for 45 off 17 overs.
No home batsman managed to reach 40, while the biggest partnership of the innings was only 51, and that came with a ninth wicket stand between Lewys Hill (30) and Kushaal Kumar (23 not out).
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In reply, Huggins and Mansfield effectively won the game with an opening partnership of 118, before Suffolk county captain Mansfield was trapped leg before by Alex Sears for 52, striking nine boundaries in his 75-ball stay.
Huggins went on to make 72 before he was bowled by Sears, having hit a six and 10 fours, and although Sudbury did lose further wickets to slip to 163 for four, an unbroken stand of 44 between club captain Darren Batch (30 not out) and New Zealand Timothy Johnston (28 not out) saw the visitors home in the 50th over, with six wickets in hand.
Club captain Batch enthused: “The important thing is that we always bounce back, whenever we have suffered a defeat.
“We haven’t lost two games in a row for one-and-a-half seasons. We have always managed to respond with a win the following week, and that’s been our main strength.
“It was a good weekend for us, with Mildenhall losing, Swardeston losing their third match in a row, and Frinton only drawing (at Norwich).
“Dustin (Melton) got amongst the wickets again, claiming the big wicket of Michael Pepper (21) caught at point by Ben Parker. He also got the vital wickets of their captain, Jonathan Atkinson (0) and Chris Pepper (15) as well,” added Batch.
While Melton made the crucial early inroads – he bowled both Atkinson and Chris Pepper, beating them for pace – it was Huggins who later ensured that there would be no recovery from Granta’s later batsmen.
“Tom came on and suffocated their middle order, which he does so well,” confirmed Batch.
“He is a very experienced bowler, and is obviously a very important performer for us. It meant that Cambridge never really got a good partnership going, even though eight of their batsmen did reach double figures.
“We were confident that we could chase down their total, because 204 was below-par given the good pitch, the quick outfield and the big size of the ground.
“Tom (Huggins) and Adam (Mansfield) gave us the perfect start. They just batted normally, because it was difficult to score quickly on what was a slow wicket, although it was easy to stay there.
“Time was not a factor, because we still had six overs left at the end,” added Batch.
Sudbury, who are away again at Norwich this weekend, are now 20 points clear at the top, following Mildenhall’s heavy defeat at Great Witchingham.
Mildenhall skipper, Tom Rash, won the toss and elected to field, but the Norfolk visitors compiled a useful 242 for seven, aided by a 119-run opening partnership between James Spelman (54) and skipper Sam Arthurton (57).
Nick Maiolo (three for 48) and veteran spinner Murtaza Hussain (two for 49), both off 18 overs, were the pick of the bowlers.
Mildenhall’s reply began well, with Joe Reed (40) and Matt Allen (26) putting on 56 for the first wicket.
But the departure of Allen, caught by wicketkeeper Sam Groves off Brett Stolworthy, prompted a collapse. In fact, Mildenhall lost all 10 wickets for the addition of 91 runs – they were dismissed for 147 in 42.3 overs.
Reed had blasted Mildenhall to victory over Sudbury with an explosive 97 not out just seven days earlier, but once he was bowled by Andy Handby for a more patient 40, the writing was on the wall. Rash was left marooned on 35 not out.