Suffolk run out of time in title quest
SUFFOLK ran out of time in their quest to win the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division.In a rain-shortened final day of the Championship season they narrowly failed to beat Lincolnshire at a gloomy Grantham.
By Elvin King
SUFFOLK ran out of time in their quest to win the Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division.
In a rain-shortened final day of the Championship season they narrowly failed to beat Lincolnshire at a gloomy Grantham.
With the two teams who began their final matches above Suffolk losing - Norfolk at Staffordshire and Cambridgeshire at Cumberland - Phil Caley's side had a chance to win their second title in three years.
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But it was Northumberland who chased 401 to beat Bedfordshire who take the pennant, and they will now play the winners or the Western Division for the overall title.
If Suffolk had managed a win yesterday they would have finished level on points with Northumberland - with the northern county still taking the crown on run rate.
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Suffolk beat Northumberland at Bury St Edmunds last month, but full marks to Northumberland for successfully chasing 400 runs twice this summer.
Suffolk's final record was two wins, three draws one defeat and they paid a heavy penalty for their poor display in the defeat against Cambridgeshire at Mildenhall - their only loss in any competition for two years.
With play not starting until 1.40pm because of rain home skipper Matt Dowman declared at Lincolnshire's overnight score of 166 for four.
The two hours loss of play took 34 overs off the day, leaving 51 plus 17 in the last hour as the minimum number left to be bowled.
Suffolk needed to get their skates on and rattle up runs as quickly as possible in the overcast conditions. But big-hitting Tom Huggins was caught behind when chasing a wide first ball and when Ben France and Andrew Mawson also went quickly Suffolk needed the steadying influence of Nick Lee to slowly regain the initiative.
Chris Warn chipped in with a lively 34 and Caley produced a number of his unique repertoire of shots to raise the lead to 200. Lee struck out in his last couple of overs but was unable to provide a charge when needed.
Suffolk were left with limited overs in which to wheedle out the home side - and any chance that Lincolnshire would go down fighting searching for their first win of the season were soon thwarted.
They needed to score 201 to win in a minimum of 34 overs, but it was soon a case of whether Suffolk could take 10 wickets - or whether the light would fade first.
Martin Smith struck twice in three balls in his third over to well-taken slip catches and then Phil Edwards joined the party to leave Lincolnshire three down at tea.
Ben France had Paul Cook caught behind and Suffolk were running to their places between overs to try and squeeze in as many overs as possible.
Justin Bishop grabbed a wicket just before the final hour began with the score at 60 for five. With the bad light forcing Caley to bowl his spinners at this stage it was gripping stuff despite the cold, miserable conditions.
Suffolk bowled 20 overs in the final hour. There were still 25 minutes left when the seventh wicket fell but Suffolk were then held up in the final overs before the 6.30pm finish.
Lincolnshire (6pts) drew with Suffolk (7pts)
First innings: 225 for 6 dec (Lee 67no).
T Huggins c Burford b Airey 0
B France c Burford b Hopkins 2
A Mawson c Bentley b Hopkins 9
N Lee c Morgan b Hopkins 41
C Swallow c Morgan b Cook 12
C Warn c Airey b Hopkins 34
P Caley not out 27
J Bishop not out 8
Total (for 6 wkts dec, 31 overs) 140
Fall: 1-0, 2-2, 3-16, 4-35, 5-83, 6-132.
Bowling: Airey 4-1-8-1, Hopkins 12-1-59-4, Cook 7-2-29-1, Ball 8-1-42-0.
First innings: 166 for 4 dec (Dowman 91no).
M Dowman c Warn b Edwards 8
M Dobson c Edwards b Smith 5
J Bentley c Caley b Smith 0
P Morgan b Swallow 31
P Cook c Warn b France 15
M Fell c Edwards b Bishop 3
O Burford c Edwards b Swallow 9
S Airey c Swallow b Huggins 11
C Hopkins not out 10
J Ball not out 3
Total (for 8, 43 overs) 97
Fall of wkts: 1-11, 2-11, 3-23, 4-53, 5-60, 6-75, 7-78, 8-92.
Bowling: Smith 8-3-21-2, Edwards 7-3-13-1, France 7-2-21-1, Bishop 5-1-7-1, King 1-0-5-0, Huggins 8-3-14-1. Swallow 7-3-9-2.