Sudbury power to a comfortable win at Copdock to strengthen their title bid
Sudbury enjoyed the perfect weekend, in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, beating Suffolk neighbours Copdock & Old Ipswichian while their two main title rivals were both suffering defeats elsewhere.
In-form Sudbury, the long-time leaders, stretched their advantage at the top to 21 points with a crushing eight-wicket win at Copdock, wrapping up victory in super-quick time.
Replying to Copdock’s under-par 157 all out, the visitors powered home off just 25.2 of their allotted 50 overs, inspired by an unbeaten 89 from Suffolk county captain Adam Mansfield.
Elsewhere, defending champions Swardeston, chasing a sixth title on the spin, tumbled to a shock three-wicket loss at lowly Bury St Edmunds, who had only won one match all season before Saturday’s Victory Ground clash.
And third-placed Great Witchingham, who are also in the title hunt, succumbed to a surprise seven-wicket home defeat at the hands of Burwell.
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It all means, with just four fixtures to play, that Sudbury are in a strong position to clinch the league crown for the first time in their history.
The key moment of Saturday’s dual at Old London Road happened very early in Copdock’s innings, when danger-man Jaik Mickleburgh was superbly run out by Billy Moulton Day for just six, with the score on 30.
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Former Essex batsman Mickleburgh had been in outstanding form all summer, for both Copdock and Suffolk, so his early dismissal was all-important in securing Sudbury’s 13th success of the season.
In fact, there were four run outs in Copdock’s disappointing innings. Teenager Alex Oxley, the second wicket to fall, was run out by James Poulson, while the hosts’ only notable partnership was a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket between Jack Beaumont (38) and skipper Tom Rash (42).
Copdock lost their last four wickets for just 12 runs, which included two more run outs.
In reply, Sudbury lost first-team skipper Tom Huggins in the first over, but a stand of 118 for the second wicket between Mansfield (89no) and Darren Batch (36) steered the Friars Street club on course for an easy win.
Suffolk county batsman Batch, Sudbury’s club captain, enthused: “It was a very good weekend for us, and Bury did us a big favour.
“It was a surprise when that result came through, although Bury always seem to save their best performances for when they are playing against Swardeston.
“The key moment in our match was the run out of (Jaik) Mickleburgh. It was brilliant to get him out early on. Billy Moulton-Day was at mid-on and he picked the ball up and threw down the stumps with a direct hit.
“Tom (Huggins) always speaks to us about trying to take our half-chances every week, and that’s what Billy managed to do. It turned the match in our favour.
“The second wicket was also a run out. James Poulson was fielding behind square on the leg side, he threw to the non-striker’s end and Tom Huggins did the rest.
“I think we’ve now won seven 50-overs-a-side games in a row, which shows that we have got five very decent bowlers. In fact, we used seven bowlers on Saturday.
“Most teams have three or four strong bowlers, but they struggle to fill the fifth slot. Tom does not have that problem with us.
“It was nice to see Ben Reece bowl again. We’ve got James (Poulson) and Jonny (Gallagher) up front, with Dustin (Melton) backing them up, and that’s even before we come to Tom (Huggins)!
“We managed to keep the pressure on Copdock. Tom is big at making sure that our fielders back up our bowlers, and they did that on Saturday, despite dropping a couple of half-chances.
“Four run outs show that we have got the basics right, and we were delighted to get them all out for just 157,” added Batch.
There were two wickets apiece for Melton and Huggins, while Poulson (8-3-22-1) and Gallagher (10-2-29-0) kept the pressure on. Reece took one for 22.
Batch continued: “Tom (Huggins) got out early on in our reply, getting a top-edge to a pull shot with (wicketkeeper) Sam Webb-Snowling taking a good catch running back.
“But Adam (Mansfield) and myself then got us on the right track. I haven’t had that much opportunity to bat with Adam, but we both run well between the wickets.
“Adam was in top form. He put the bad ball away very well, and so I was happy to just play second fiddle. I just kept him company.
“We were really pleased to be able to wrap up the win with nearly half the innings still to go. In the past, we have tended to struggle to chase down the smaller targets, often losing five or six wickets and not being that convincing. But not this time.”