Sudbury recover from dreadful start to beat Vauxhall Mallards
Sudbury recovered from the precarious position of 21 for five, during a torturous start to their innings, to run out impressive winners by 63 runs over Vauxhall Mallards in a Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League clash at Friars Street on Saturday.
It was looking very grim for Sudbury, with their five top-order batsmen all back in the pavilion for single-score figures, including their skipper Tom Huggins and also club captain Darren Batch.
The experienced duo of Paul Bradshaw and Ben France did the main damage, making the most of an obliging pitch, but the defending champions gradually turned it around, first with the bat in their lower order, and then with the ball.
Overseas all-rounder Tim Johnston and teenager Keelan Waldock put on an invaluable 43 for the sixth wicket, to nurse the score on to 64 before the latter fell for 22, accrued off 48 balls.
The score had moved on to 80, by the time that Johnston became one of Bradshaw’s four victims, bowled for 36 off 45 balls. He struck three sixes and three fours during his aggressive stay at the crease.
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Despite this mini-recovery, Sudbury were still knee-deep in trouble at 104 for nine, following the departures of Dan Poole (16) and Dustin Melton (2), only for the last pairing of James Poulson and Jonny Gallagher to steer the hosts to the relative respectability of 162 all out, off 42.3 overs.
Poulson hit a six and six fours in his excellent knock of 55, compiled off 63 balls. He was the only batsman from either side to get beyond 40.
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Bradshaw took four for 74, off 18 overs, and France claimed four for 44 off 16 overs, but in the end their efforts were to prove fruitless.
In reply, Mallards were skittled out for just 99 in 38.4 overs, Gallagher finishing with excellent figures of 13-3-32-6 as Sudbury, the current champions, celebrated a fifth win from their first seven fixtures.
“The conditions up top were very tough. The pitch was showing signs of the recent thunderstorms, so it was very awkward batting early on,” explained Sudbury club captain Batch.
“Paul Bradshaw and Ben France are two very experienced and excellent seamers. If there is anything to be got out of the pitch, then they will find it, and they got a lot of assistance early on.
“But Tim (Johnston) and Keelan (Waldock) both batted really well to start the recovery. Tim took the attack to the bowlers, and did not let them settle, hitting three sixes, while Keelan played a very mature innings for such a young player. He has been on the fringes of the first team in the last two or three years, and has played the odd game, but he looked very comfortable out there.
“We thought that 130 would be a par score for the pitch, but we were 104 for nine at lunch, so we were a long way behind that target.
“Jonny (Gallagher) played a supporting role, providing some stubborn resistance, and James (Poulson) played his own game, attacking at the other end.
“It was a great knock from James, and he fully deserved his half-century.
“We have a lot of strength in depth, both in batting and bowling, and in the end to get to 162 was not a bad effort,” added Batch.
With the exception of South African Nicholas Smit (20) at No. 3, and Adam Todd (28 not out) down at No. 10, Mallards’ batsmen always looked uncomfortable.
“Jonny (Gallagher) took centre stage early on, by getting the first two wickets,” continued Batch.
“But the key partnership was always going to be between Ben (France) and Smit, and Tom (Huggins) brought himself on at this point.
“He has bowled against Ben many times over the years, and he managed to turn the ball away from the left-hander to get his wicket. Ben got a leading edge.”
Skipper France (5) was caught at point by Poole, and Smit then became the third of Gallagher’s six victims, caught at backward point by Ben Parker from an uppish drive, to pave the way for a fine victory.
Gallagher took the last two wickets to fall, to complete a six-wicket haul, while spinner Huggins had excellent figures of 7-2-13-2.
Sudbury are just four points behind leaders Swardeston, and the top two meet at The Common in Norfolk this Saturday, although Sudbury will be without two important players in 35-year-old Huggins and Suffolk county captain Adam Mansfield.
Batch confirmed: “Sadly, we will be missing two key players this weekend, due to unavailability.
“Tom (Huggins) will be at Old Trafford with the Essex first team for the match against Lancashire, and Adam (Mansfield) has school commitments at Orwell Park.”
Just six points separate the top three of Swardeston, Sudbury and Mildenhall, with one of these three looking the likely winners.