Suffolk make steady progress at Bury

SUFFOLK made sufficient progress in a rain-shortened first day at Bury St Edmunds yesterday to suggest they can retain the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK made sufficient progress in a rain-shortened first day at Bury St Edmunds yesterday to suggest they can retain the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division title.

Put in to bat by Lincolnshire in their final match of the regular season, the home side scored reasonably well in the three sessions of play possible between two heavy showers.

Suffolk began this match in third place, two points behind Lincolnshire and five behind Buckinghamshire, who had their final match at Jesmond against Northumberland washed out yesterday.

Bucks will still be hoping to win over the remaining two days, but their lack of action yesterday should be of benefit to Suffolk as the season comes to a tension-packed end.

Suffolk gained two bonus batting points yesterday and will be hoping to increase this to the maximum four by reaching 325 in the 90 overs.

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And if they then remove at least nine Lincs wickets inside 90 overs Phil Caley's side will gain eight bonus points in total - which would be added to 16 for a win or four for a draw.

Suffolk, unbeaten this rain-affected season, made one change from the side that beat Staffordshire in the previous match. Chris Schofield came in for Tim Catley, with pace bowler Trevor Smith's possible return thwarted by a calf injury.

Former Test star Schofield is required by Surrey Second XI for a three-day match starting tomorrow and by special arrangement he will switch to the Surrey game on Wednesday.

Tom Huggins was also set to be picked for the Essex second team, but they were happy to let the opener play for Suffolk and miss out on a three-day fixture that also starts tomorrow.

After Andrew Mawson had been bowled by the third ball he received, Huggins and Martyn Cull put on an impressive 129 stand.

Play re-started at 2pm and Huggins and Cull were still at the wicket gathering pace when a second heavy squall arrived at 3.30pm leading to an 80-minute delay that included the tea interval.

Huggins was leg before playing back to spinner Martyn Dobson after displaying his usual array of shots and collecting 10 fours, while Cull hit some flowing boundaries before being caught off a cut at slip with the ball hitting the chest of Mathew Dowman before looping into the skipper's hands.

Schofield briefly struck the ball sweetly despite being affected by a right ankle problem suffered playing golf. It was a blow to Suffolk when he was caught at cover point, but then Nick Lee and Chris Warn combined in the evening sunshine to put Suffolk into a satisfactory position.

Both play for East Anglian Premier League champions Bury and made use of their local knowledge to keep the scoreboard moving, with Lee hitting one gigantic six into the road over a row of houses.

Play finished at 7.23pm with Lincs dropping a couple of chances in the final 30 minutes.

Caley revealed that he would have bowled if he had won the toss. “The wicket is fine, but I would have wanted to gain from the overhead conditions,” said Caley.

He was pleased with yesterday's outcome, and if the weather holds over the next two days Caley could be leading his side in the play-off final against Western Division winners Devon next month.

Tim Catley expressed his disappointment at being omitted from Suffolk's team after scoring a hundred three games ago against Hertfordshire.

Watching from the boundary Catley said: “I go along with the decision, and the reasoning that I am playing in goal for Ely City in the Ridgeons Football League.

“But we have no midweek game and do not train until Wednesday night. It is a little disappointing.”

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