Suffolk Over-50s seeking semi-final spot

SUFFOLK’S veteran cricketers are aiming to create a slice of history and reach the semi-finals of the National ECB Over-50s competition for the first time this weekend.

After topping their group Suffolk disposed of Hertfordshire in the last 16 and now face Hampshire in the 50 overs-a-side competition at the Victory Ground in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday, start 1pm.

Tony Stubbs, who is in his fourth season as skipper, is still good enough to play for Frinton in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, while opening batsman Simon Halliday has also appeared a couple of times for Ipswich in Division One this season.

Ex-Suffolk batsman Halliday has played a key role in the team’s success this season along with Guy Robins.

Stubbs said: “Simon Halliday has had a great season. He has been available a lot more than in previous seasons and has given us more stability at the top of the order.

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“Guy Robins has lost a lot of weight and every time he has come on to bowl he has turned the game by taking some very important wickets, so he is having a very good season with the ball. However, our two strengths are that the side has hardly changed – we have had one or two changes at most – and also that everybody from one to eleven has contributed when needed.

“When we were under pressure in the last game against Hertfordshire Ian Knight hit a quickfire 33 and gave us a score to bowl at, and then all our bowlers bowled superbly.”

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Suffolk enter the last-eight tie in good form, after winning six and losing just one of their seven completed competitive matches so far this season.

Stubbs said: “It is the first time ever that we have topped our group, and if wasn’t for the rain-affected game against Bedfordshire at Woolpit where we lost off the last ball we would have been unbeaten.

“We have managed to get to the last 16 for the second consecutive season and only the third time ever, which is a great achievement in itself.

“We also went on to reach the quarter-finals last season, when we played Warwickshire at Leamington Spa on a blazing hot day. Guy Robins and Kevin Dobson were unavailable and their absence made a big difference.

“We have never met Hampshire in the five years I have played for the Over-50s, so we know nothing about them, but then we knew nothing about Hertfordshire.

“But if we back ourselves and do everything we know we are capable of doing we will put ourselves in a strong position to win the match.”

Suffolk are forced into making two changes from the side that was successful in the quarter-finals. Andy Gallant and Ian Knight are both unavailable and are replaced by Oliver Gravell and Ivan Whitehart, who have both played regularly in this season’s competition.

Should Suffolk win they will be away to Lancashire, who beat Kent by 31 runs in their quarter-final, in the last four.

Suffolk: S Halliday, C Walters, T Stubbs (capt), K Howlett, I Whitehart, G Robins, K Dobson, A Southall, N Crame (wkt), O Gravell, N Dennis.

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