Suffolk on top after first day's play

SUFFOLK shone at both ends of a cloudy day to gain the upper hand in their Minor Counties Championship game against Bedfordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK shone at both ends of a cloudy day to gain the upper hand in their Minor Counties Championship game against Bedfordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich.

They will start today's second day at 11am in the driving seat thanks to some excellent - and rapid - morning batting and some fine evening spin bowling by Chris Schofield.

Fielding a side that had 28-year-old Tim Catley as their second-oldest player - evergreen skipper Phil Caley is into his forties - Suffolk rattled up 100 inside 14 overs.


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Tom Huggins and Nick Lee scorched to a first wicket partnership of 120 after Caley won the toss. Huggins notched his first Suffolk half-century, his 50 coming in the 11th over and including a remarkable 12 fours. He only made four other scoring strokes as he smashed the ball all over the park. With a century in the offing, he holed out to square leg off a short ball from the willing Simon Greyvensteyn, who plays his club cricket for Clacton.

Suffolk were 180 for one at lunch with Tobias Hembry reaching double figures for the first time in this competition. The Bury St Edmunds left-hander moved smoothly into gear after the break and began caressing the ball all round the ground.

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He lost Lee after the opener had impressed to a catch behind, and Schofield came in to knock the ball around. The ex-Lancashire and England player struck two successive boundaries to the square leg boundary, and next ball tried an ambitious reverse sweep and had his leg stump knocked back by spinner Steve Watts.

This led to a Suffolk collapse as they went from 232 for two to 297 all out. While their pacemen took plenty of stick on a hard wicket - Greyvensteyn's three wickets apart - Bedfordshire's spinners Andy Roberts and Watts took control.

Hembry went, caught behind down the leg side off his gloves after reaching his fifty in 76 balls, before Catley and Chris Warn fell leg before to leg spinner Roberts. Caley suffered a rare failure when he was caught at slip as it began to drizzle, and despite some fine shots by Justin Bishop and Chris Swallow, Suffolk were soon back in the pavilion.

Beds went out to bat in cloudy, cool conditions just as England's World Cup football match was kicking off in the Stuttgart heat. The visitors got off to a quick start and had no alarms in the five overs before tea

James Knott - skipper of Beds and son of former England keeper Alan - reached his 50 in 70 balls, but was out soon after as the drizzle returned. After that there was a steady fall of wickets as Schofield took control. Andrew McGarry got in on the act in the final half-hour, taking two victims, before play closed with Suffolk in pole position - although peeved at failing to gain the maximum four batting points when looking in such good order.

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