Suffolk hard-pushed to gain a victory

SUFFOLK will be hard-pushed to gain a victory when they resume their Minor Counties Championship game against Staffordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich today.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK will be hard-pushed to gain a victory when they resume their Minor Counties Championship game against Staffordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich today.

They trail the visitors by 79 runs after a full day's play yesterday saw 15 wickets fall in helpful bowling conditions.

Losing the opening day to the weather helped neither side's cause, and a draw still looks the most likely outcome.

But Staffs will have been galvanised by collecting late wickets and having Suffolk on the back foot as play ended at 7.30pm in gloriously sunny conditions.

If they can get through Suffolk's tail quickly this morning - when 102 overs are available on the final day - they will look to set Phil Caley's side a stiff target around the middle of the afternoon.

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The importance of the occasion - after Suffolk's opening game was drawn - was reflected in Caley's decision to bat further up the order at No. 5.

On a ground where he has excelled over the years with a cascade of runs, he lifted himself above the No. 8 berth he has regularly held for a number of seasons.

He was out to a brute of a ball that lifted almost head height off a good length.

After that Suffolk became becalmed with just eight runs off the final 10 overs - and six of those were a boundary off a no ball.

It was Suffolk who seized the initiative from the start after skipper Caley won the toss and elected to field.

Debut-making Clacton bowler Martin Smith removed both openers before either had troubled the scorers.

When Chris Howell was leg before off Philip Edwards with the score on 15, Suffolk were in the driving seat on a green wicket that had been covered for most of the previous two days.

Batting was not an easy occupation and runs had to be worked for, although Mo Sheikh, who was playing first class cricket with Derbyshire last season, and skipper Richard Harvey pulled the visitors round with a 42-run stand until seamer Paul King removed the latter for 27.

Sam Seadon gave Sheikh valuable assistance as the score rose to 126 before Justin Bishop took a smart low caught and bowled to remove Seadon.

This signalled the downfall of the Staffs innings, and how they could have done with former England batsman Kim Barnett.

Many times a thorn in Suffolk's side over the last few years, the veteran was yesterday patrolling the boundary as the odd one out in Staffs original 12-man squad.

Keeper Paul Goodwin was run out by bowler Edwards after a suicidal call by Sheikh and once Shiekh departed to a steepling acrobatic catch taken low by Nick Lee the tail crumbled as Bishop and company made full use of the conditions. Rain caused lunch to be brought forward by 10 minutes, and there was a heavier shower before Suffolk could start their innings which led to an early tea.

But there was bright sunshine when play re-commenced at 4.45pm, although after one typically forceful four,

Tom Huggins was left in the dark after being adjudged leg before playing no stroke. The ball did appear to hit him high.

Sheikh proved a handful with his pace and bounce, including that brute of a delivery that accounted for Caley, and he received good back-up from the rest of the bowlers.

Clacton's Martyn Cull nicked the ball to the keeper in the same over that Nick Lee had been dropped by Goodwin.

But Lee was still there at the end with Chris Warn striking a few lovely shots before taking a swing at 17-year-old Eddie Jones.

STAFFORDSHIRE

First innings

R King c Warn b Smith 0

S Moreton b Smith 0

C Howell lbw Edwards 7

R Harvey b King 27

M Sheikh c Lee b Edwards 58

S Seadon c and b Bishop 38

G Cairns b Bishop 4

P Goodwin run out 2

E Jones c Warn b Bishop 6

G Morris c Warn b Smith 8

J Snape not out 12

Extras 16

Total (62.2 overs) 178

Fall of wkts: 1-2, 2-5, 3-15, 4-57, 5-126, 6-134, 7-142, 8-156, 9-162.

Bowling: Smith 17.2-4-36-3, Edwards 17-3-52-2, Bishop 17-2-59-3, King 6-1-9-1, Swallow 3-0-5-0, France 2-0-11-0.

SUFFOLK

First innings

B France b Snape 7

T Huggins lbw Snape 4

M Cull c Goodwin b Sheikh 24

N Lee not out 24

P Caley c Goodwin b Sheikh 10

C Warn c Goodwin b Jones 14

C Swallow not out 0

Extras 16

Total (for 5 wkts, 44 overs) 99

Fall of wkts: 1-4, 2-15, 3-54, 4-82, 5-99.

Bowling: Sheikh 18-8-26-2, Snape 11-2-37-2, Seadon 8-1-30-0, Morris 4-3-1-0, Jones 3-2-1-1.

Bonus points to date: Suffolk 4, Staffordshire 3.

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