Sudbury ease home at Norwich to cement top spot
- Credit: Archant
Sudbury are a healthy 24 points clear, at the top of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, after easing to a comfortable five-wicket win at Norwich on Saturday.
The defending champions rattled up their eighth win of the summer, from 11 starts, thanks to some accurate bowling, led by Dustin Melton, and then an unbeaten 81 from skipper Tom Huggins during a well-paced reply.
Norwich were restricted to a below-par 186 for eight, off their 64 overs, and Sudbury made light work of reaching their target inside 44 overs to cement their top spot going into the second half of the season.
Frinton are currently their closest challengers, following a win over basement dwellers Bury St Edmunds, while Swardeston, who won the title for five years in a row between 2012 and 2016, returned to winning ways at Horsford to haul themselves up to third spot, a distant 35 points behind Sudbury.
Norwich captain, Ashley Watson, won the toss and elected to bat first, but the Norfolk side found runs very difficult to come by, especially in the face of some fine seam bowling from the excellent Melton and James Poulson, plus spinners Huggins and Timothy Johnston.
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In fact, this quartet bowled 62 of the 64 overs in the innings, due mainly to the absence of regular opening bowler Jonny Gallagher, who was unavailable for this game.
The highest partnership of the innings was a 68-run stand for the third wicket between skipper Watson (33) and Nipuna Senaratne (42), before Huggins bowled his rival captain Watson with the score on 112. Otherwise, Norwich were never allowed to settle into a groove.
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Huggins went on to record fine figures of 18-5-55-3, while overseas player Johnston had made the initial breakthrough by having opener Oliver Higenbottam (16) caught by club captain Darren Batch. The New Zealander returned figures of 16-3-47-2.
Melton, promoted to open the bowling in the absence of Gallagher, took two for 52, including the prize wicket of top-scorer Senaratne, while fellow opening bowler James Poulson’s 12 overs cost a mere 26 runs.
Club captain Batch explained: “We bowled very well as a team. Without Jonny (Gallagher), we had to show discipline in our bowling, which is what we did.
“It was not an easy pitch to score runs, because it was a used pitch and very dry, due to all the recent hot weather.
“Dustin (Melton) deserves huge credit for the way he bowled. We were a seamer short, and he bowled a fantastic spell before and after the lunch-break.
“Meanwhile, Tom was just his usual self, bowling tightly and also picking up wickets,” added Batch.
Sudbury suffered an early blow during their reply, losing Suffolk county captain Adam Mansfield for a second-ball duck, caught by Lewis Sexton off John Iniff, during the second over of the match.
But the imperious Huggins and Batch, not for the first time, built the platform for victory by putting on 72 for the second wicket. Batch made 26 off 54 balls, before he was the first of Max Goodrum’s three wickets.
Kenny Moulton-Day (12) was trapped leg before by Ashley Watson to leave the visitors on 91 for three, but Ben Parker then joined Huggins to effectively secure victory with a dominant stand of 67.
Parker, who missed the early part of the season while away at university, scored a quick 42 off 60 balls, including eight boundaries, while the vastly experienced Huggins continued to play steadily at the other end.
Huggins finished on 81 not out, hitting a six and 11 fours in a 116-ball stay. He saw his side over the line with Poulson also at the crease.
“It was great to see Ben (Parker) back in form,” continued Batch.
“He batted really fluently, on a difficult pitch, and if you are outscoring someone like Tom Huggins, then you know that you are batting pretty well!
“Tom was again his usual self. He was very solid, stayed there and made sure that we got home without any problems. Time was never a factor either.
“It’s good to be 24 points ahead, at the half-way mark. Things are going well.
“Now we have Bury at home this weekend. They have been struggling, but we certainly won’t be taking the game lightly,” added Batch.
Also this weekend, second-placed Frinton will enjoy home advantage, against eighth-placed Copdock & Old Ipswichian, while out-of-sorts Mildenhall, who have dropped to fourth after recent defeats, face a tough ask away at Swardeston.