Suffolk have a lot still to do

SUFFOLK are left with a lot of work to do if they want to retain the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title after coming away from Hertfordshire with a thrilling draw.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK are left with a lot of work to do if they want to retain the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title after coming away from Hertfordshire with a thrilling draw.

Phil Caley's side really needed a victory and 24 points to push the leaders, but they came close to defeat when Herts fell 11 runs short when chasing 275 in 50 overs.

The home side gradually built to a crescendo and when Steve Cordingley and David Ward were going well it looked as though they could win the match and give some cheer to the home supporters.

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But Suffolk stuck to their task well with Chris Schofield, Andrew McGarry and Justin Bishop holding their nerve and bowling well as the overs counted down.

There was 100 needed off the last 13 overs and then 77 off the final 10.

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As wickets began to tumble consistently, Hertfordshire kept up the chase and with five overs left, they needed 51 runs.

But some good catching in the deep eventually ensured that Suffolk escaped with at least a draw and at one time, there was a brief hope that they could even manufacture a late victory.

Herts needed 17 runs off the last over and Aaron Laraman was still going great guns but off the third ball he was caught on the square leg boundary by McGarry. This confirmed that a draw would result. McGarry was a busy man, making an extraordinary catch to dismiss Cordingley when the Herts opener had scored 102 runs off 124 balls.

A yard inside the boundary at square leg, McGarry stuck up his right hand and leapt to take a magnificent catch that had his team-mates running over to congratulate him in the bright sunshine. Cordingley had been caught off a no ball from McGarry when he had scored just four and with Chris Stead joining him for a 96-run second-wicket partnership, the base was built for the late assault.

Phil Carlson, who batted No. 11 in the first innings, struck three fours before being caught in Bishop's first over, having been sent in as a pinch hitter.

When Suffolk batted yesterday morning, they failed to get to grips with the game and only dictated in the first over when 12 runs were scored.

The home bowlers performed well, but it was often slow progress for the visitors once the big-hitting Tom Huggins and star man Schofield had been dismissed with catches half-way to the boundary.

Chris Warn notched his second half-century of the game and did well, making his 50 in 85 balls.

Tim Catley, who in the first innings joined his brothers Russell and Matthew in scoring centuries for Suffolk, gave him good assistance, but the tempo never really increased until Suffolk declared on 202 with one wicket left. This gave Hertfordshire a minimum of 43 overs to score 275, and this turned out to be 50 overs with spinner Schofield bowling throughout, having changed ends after the tea interval.

With just one win and two draws in their opening three games, Suffolk must now look to gain victories in their final three matches.

Rain has not helped them and if Monday's play had gone the full distance, they could well have been in a better position to have gone looking for what would have been an important win.

After looking a poor side in recent seasons, Hertfordshire were a spirited outfit this time and one perfectly capable of giving any team in the division a difficult game.

Tobias Hembry went to hospital after dislocating a finger in his right hand when trying to make a catch at square leg and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit when Suffolk play their next game at March against Cambridgeshire on Sunday week.

Schofield took five wickets in the second innings to take his total for the game to 13 and his talents were certainly needed to ensure Suffolk gained at least the four points for a draw, that when added to their maximum eight bonus points, gave them 12 from the contest.

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