Suffolk need Minor miracle to claim title

SUFFOLK will need to produce an outstanding performance on the final day of the Minor Counties Championship season if they are to win the Eastern Division title.

They trail Cumberland, who still have five second innings wickets in hand, by 285 runs following yesterday’s second day at Sedbergh School.

It looks as though only a Suffolk victory will be enough to claim the title, with Lincolnshire poised to beat Bedfordshire and dislodge Suffolk from the top of the table unless Suffolk can lower Cumberland’s colours.

The hosts enter the final day with an outside chance of still claiming the crown if there is not a positive result at Grantham, although this is looking unlikely unless the weather intervenes.

Bedfordshire trail Lincolnshire’s first innings total by 22 runs with five second innings wickets still standing, making it odds-on that Lincolnshire will win the match.

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Starting the second day 286 runs in arrears with seven first innings wickets intact, Suffolk were bowled out for 240 with the veteran Marcus Sharp doing the damage and finishing with figures of 34-9-78-6.

Martyn Cull and Ben France extended their fourth-wicket stand to 94 in 127 minutes before Cull was bowled in the 55th over by debutant Rick Gleeson, the Clacton batsman’s patient knock lasting 139 deliveries laced with five fours.

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France, having faced 119 balls and struck four fours and two sixes, fell for 60 to a smart stumping by Ikram Ullah. Nick Lee, making his first championship appearance of the summer, was caught behind to give Ullah his fifth victim of the innings before Darren Batch was bowled first ball.

There then followed a useful eighth-wicket alliance of 33 between Chris Warn (27) and Simon Rees (23) in 12 overs before Warn departed and then Rees was run out by a direct hit as he attempted to take a quick single to Mark Brown at mid off.

With a first innings lead of 114 Cumberland’s batsmen then sought to put as much daylight between them and their visitors, James Lowe and Jonathan Miles posting an opening partnership of 40 before Paul King trapped Miles lbw with the fifth ball of the 15th over.

Brown joined Lowe in adding 64 in 74 minutes before the latter was caught on the mid-wicket boundary pulling a short delivery.

France took the three other wickets to fall, Warn stumping Brown before James Smith, promoted to score quick runs, was bowled and Ullah caught in the covers first ball.

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