Suffolk left disappointed despite win

SUFFOLK were left disappointed after a convincing win over previously unbeaten Lincolnshire at Bury St Edmunds yesterday was followed by news that Buckinghamshire had won their final match at Northumberland.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK were left disappointed after a convincing win over previously unbeaten Lincolnshire at Bury St Edmunds yesterday was followed by news that Buckinghamshire had won their final match at Northumberland.

This meant that Phil Caley's side remained unbeaten for the whole of the 2006 cricket season yet failed to collect any silverware.

They moved above Lincs in the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division to finish runners-up behind Bucks, and can look at adverse weather over the course of the summer for the main reason why they were unable to retain the title they won last year.

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Suffolk's bowling has been their strength, and it came to the fore again at Bury St Edmunds yesterday when Lincs were bowled out for 225 to give Suffolk a comprehensive 112-run victory. The wickets were shared around, the last three going down without addition to the score, before the final one fell just before 4pm.

Whether Suffolk will be able to field such a strong team next season if Director of Cricket Kevin Brooks stands down and with the sponsorship of the Braceforth Group not confirmed, remains to be seen.

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Sixty-four overs were lost in total because of rain over the first two days but thanks to negotiations between the two captains the final day was set up for an exciting finish.

It did not materialise because of Suffolk's ascendancy with the ball and they were able to remove a side that had seven players averaging over 40 without too much discomfort.

Justin Bishop supplied the initial burst, taking two wickets in three balls, the first from a poor shot by Lincs skipper Mathew Dowman that saw him well caught low down by Martyn Cull at point.

Dangerman John Trower was leg before two balls later which meant that the visitors had to rebuild and although Martyn Dobson stayed around until just before lunch to score 47 and the Cook brothers Rob and Paul put on 71 for the sixth wicket, Suffolk were always in command.

Chris Swallow took a wicket with his first ball and continued to bowl steadily while Chris Schofield showed his all-round ability by following his 92 not out on Monday with three big wickets and three catches yesterday.

Schofield got rid of Dobson with a typical leg-spinner's wicket, having the opener caught low down by Bishop at slip and after lunch, which was taken at 118 for five, Andrew McGarry came into his own with his second spell to claim a couple of wickets.

With Paul King also taking a brace Suffolk left the field in good spirits after a job well done.

They needed to win to overtake Lincs and then hope that Bucks would lose in their final match.

But Bucks bowled Northumberland out twice in a game that was washed out completely on the first day and then won by five wickets chasing 140.

Bucks will now play Devon, the Western Division winners, in a play-off to decide the outright Minor Counties Champion while Suffolk will have the winter to reflect on a season where they performed well on the field in every game they played, but were denied their due reward by the weather.

PHIL Caley, the 43-year-old who has played for Suffolk since 1982, confirmed last night that he is to stay on as skipper of the Suffolk team.

Caley said: “The chairman asked me to carry on and I am happy to do so.

“Our bowlers were the key this season and this was the same against Lincolnshire in their second innings and it was a good performance against a very good batting side.

“It was a little bit nerve-racking making a declaration but once Justin Bishop got the early breakthrough I thought we were always on top.

“Gaining four victories in the Minor Counties - and drawing the other two in rain-affected matches - is a record we can look back on with satisfaction and although it is not the end of the world that we are only runners-up it is still disappointing.

“Chris Schofield has shown what he can do and been a big success with both bat and ball and it looks as though he might be joining Surrey next season.

“He is certainly good enough, but if it doesn't work out we will be delighted to welcome him back. And Tom Huggins, our other newcomer, is one of the best players in the Minor Counties.”

Huggins is having trials with Essex.

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