Suffolk made to fight all the way
SUFFOLK achieved their first Minor Counties Championship win of the season at Ipswich School yesterday - but not before Buckinghamshire gave them an almighty scare.
After outplaying their opponents over the first two days, it appeared to be a matter of not if, but when, Suffolk wrapped up victory going into yesterday’s final day.
Bucks, who began the day requiring 321 to win with just six second innings wickets intact, were seemingly staring down the barrel at a heavy defeat.
But to their credit, they made Suffolk fight all the way before they finally ended the visitors’ resistance to win by 31 runs just six minutes shy of the final hour’s play.
The Ivry Street wicket became easier to bat on the longer the match wore on, and fifth-wicket pair Michael Payne and Joel Pope took advantage to compile a stand of 62 in 83 balls before being parted in the 33rd over.
Ben France, who is often employed by Suffolk as a partnership-breaking bowler, struck to claim the first of his match-winning five wickets when Phil Edwards held the chance at mid off.
Four overs later France was at it again, removing Payne with the aid of a Scott Harvey catch at point. Payne’s innings had occupied 105 deliveries and contained seven fours and two sixes.
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But any thoughts that Suffolk, after reducing Bucks to 110 for six, would run through the rest of the innings were banished by a seventh-wicket alliance between skipper Jason Harrison and wicket-keeper David Cranfield-Thompson.
They kept the Suffolk attack at bay for 38 overs, adding 111 runs off 234 deliveries in the process, before former Middlesex batsman Harrison’s 126-ball stay was ended as France clipped a bail.
When France had Vikram Bannerjee caught at slip by Tom Huggins after the ball deflected off wicket-keeper Chris Warn, two overs later, it looked as though Suffolk might bring the match to a swift conclusion.
But once again they were thwarted as Usman Arif dug in for 78 balls spanning 26 overs in support of Cranfield-Thompson. Their partnership prospered to the tune of 94 runs and had reduced the target to just 44 needed when Arif was trapped in front by France.
Five overs later it was all over - much to the relief of Suffolk and their supporters - when Cranfield-Thompson, looking to lift James Finch into the leg side, missed and was adjudged leg before after facing 215 balls and striking 18 boundaries.
Ben France said he relishes the challenge of a dog-fight after bowling Suffolk to their first Championship victory of the campaign.
France’s five for 61 was his first-ever five-wicket haul for the county, and the 29-year-old former Derbyshire all-rounder said: “It is always nice to contribute with the ball.
“To be honest, I always relish the opportunity to bowl when we are in a bit of a dog-fight. I like the challenge, and I will put my hand up to do it.
“It was a sporting wicket, and it was a case of pitching the ball up and hopefully hitting the seam.
“We know Ipswich School is a bit of a spinner’s paradise, but the pitch had calmed down, although the odd one was still nipping around.”
France, who made his Suffolk debut in 2003 and has now taken more than 50 wickets for the county, added: “This result gets our season up and running. It will be good to go to Northumberland in a couple of weeks’ time with this win under our belts.”
Ivry Street scorecard
Suffolk (21pts) beat Buckinghamshire (4pts) by 31 runs.
First innings: 183 (M Cull 108, U Arif 4 for 63, J Benning 4 for 66).
Second innings: 277 for 9 dec (J Finch 79, T Huggins 72, M Payne 5 for 104).
First innings: 96 (J Finch 4 for 9, P Edwards 3 for 22).
Second innings (Overnight 44 for 4): M Payne c Harvey b France 55, J Pope c Edwards b France 17, J Harrison b France 36, D Cranfield-Thompson lbw b Finch 122, V Bannerjee c Huggins b France 2, U Arif lbw b France 21, S Stanway not out 4. Extras 53.
Total (off 107 overs) 333.
Fall: 5-106, 6-110, 7-221, 8-227, 9-321, 10-333.
Bowling: Edwards 18-10-37-1; Hunn 11-2-24-1; Finch 34.2-11-789-2; Huggins 11-1-46-1; France 22-8-61-5; Bishop 11-1-39-0.