Suffolk Seniors fly the flag in Caribbean

SUFFOLK Seniors have returned from competing in the ESAF/Sir Garfield Sobers Seniors tournament in Barbados.

A party of 26 including 14 players led by Chris Watson set off for the two-week trip to the Caribbean sunshine.

Team from Shropshire, Yorkshire, Bermuda, plus two local teams took part in the tournament, which saw Suffolk finish in sixth and last place after losing their three group games and then the 5th/6th place play-off.

In their opening group game against Carlton, one of the island sides, Suffolk bowled first in a 30-over match and saw their opponents reach an imposing 166 for three.

Neil Calvert, who plays for Lincolnshire Over-50s but was keen to join the Suffolk party as his own county did not enter the tournament, scored 43 and John Stuck 28 in an 84-run partnership before Stuck retired. Nigel Dennis (21) added respectability to the Suffolk score with some lusty blows from 11 balls as Suffolk closed on 128 for four in a 28-run defeat.

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Suffolk then suffered a 42-run reverse against Maxwell, the other island side, in a 20-over match under lights. Suffolk made a great start by reducing the local side to six for three and despite the admirable figures of two for 13 off four overs from Bob Perrett, Maxwell recovered to finish on 141 for six.

Calvert was again the mainstay of Suffolk’s reply, top-scoring with 31, although Watson his a quick 20 from 18 deliveries as Suffolk closed on 99 for four.

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Suffolk were soon in trouble in their final group game against Bermuda, batting first in the 35-over match and struggling at 59 for five. A stand of 65 between Colin Walters (48 not out) and Nigel Dennis (26) enabled Suffolk to post 134 for six, which looked under-par against strong opposition apparently boasting the youngest average age of the competing teams.

At 130 for six in reply Bermuda appeared to be cruising towards victory, but Pat Patel’s four for 30 caused panic and at 132 for nine Suffolk had chances to win the game, but Bermuda claimed a one-wicket win.

In the 5th/6th place play-off Carlton got off to a flying start, and although Martin Southwell’s two for 16 slowed the scoring rate down, Carlton racked up 159 in their 30 overs.

Stuck (25) and Calvert (44) put together an opening partnership of 69, but it was not quick enough to threaten Carlton’s total and after their departure Suffolk reached a meagre 107 for five and a 52-run defeat.

The final saw Yorkshire beat Bermuda by one run in a thrilling match, after which Sir Garfield Sobers made the presentations to the winning team and players of the tournament.

After seeing England Masters (35+) lose to the West Indies Masters in the second of a three-match series of Twenty20s at the Kensington Oval, Suffolk’s final match was a friendly against a Barbados Tourist Board XI. Southwell took four for 16 and together with some excellent fielding, Suffolk restricted their opponents to 85 all out.

Suffolk’s two-wicket win was based on a patient 21 from opener Messent and 21 not out from Calvert, who held the middle order together.

During the tournament all four visiting teams were collecting for charity, mainly through a system of fines.

A final total of 1,600 Bajan dollars (around �530) was presented to The Variety Club of Barbados for their children’s charitable fund, with Suffolk’s contribution amounting to 621 dollars.

A further 800 dollars was raised from the auction of cricket balls autographed by Sir Garfield Sobers, and the Suffolk Seniors were grateful to Sudbury CC and Copdock & OI CC for donating a quantity of children’s cricket gear.

At the celebration dinner on the final evening, Southwell was declared Suffolk’s player of the tour and the ‘Champagne moment’ went to Messent.

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