Tom Huggins leads from the front as Sudbury beat Frinton to stay top
Inspired by another fine all-round display from their skipper, Tom Huggins, table-topping Sudbury surged to another convincing victory at the expense of visiting Frinton in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League on Saturday.
Huggins starred with bat and ball as Sudbury comprehensively defeated Frinton by nine wickets to rattle up their 14th win from 19 starts this summer.
However, nearest rivals Swardeston and Great Witchingham also both claimed victories over the weekend, both by the margin of seven wickets against Copdock & Old Ipswichian and Vauxhall Mallards respectively.
Sudbury therefore remain 21 points clear at the top, with just three matches remaining, and the destination of the title could well all rest on the outcome of their final game of the season, when they entertain second-placed Swardeston, the defending champions, at Friars Street.
Huggins claimed figures of 10-5-23-4 to restrict Frinton to an under-par 132 all out, with just 34.5 of the allotted 50 overs used.
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And the former Suffolk county captain then sped to an unbeaten 72 off 73 balls as Sudbury reached their target for the loss of just one wicket, with more than half their overs in hand (25.1 overs).
Darren Batch, Sudbury’s club captain, gave Huggins support with 40 not out as the pair put on an unbroken stand of 97.
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“Winning the toss was very important, to stick them into bat,” admitted Batch.
“It was very difficult going early on for them, and we bowled fairly well up front. They came at us very aggressively, looking to score quick runs, and they already had about 60 on the board after the first 10 overs.
“But we managed to take wickets at regular intervals, and once again Tom (Huggins) had a big impact. He is a class bowler, and has bowled well all season.
“The wicket actually looked worse than it played. We thought that it was going to do a lot, but it didn’t do as much as we expected,” added Batch.
Frinton went into the game nursing slight hopes of breaking into the top three and perhaps even having an outside shot at the title – they began the day in fourth slot, 50 points off top spot but only 12 adrift of third-placed Great Witchingham.
Yet the Essex visitors got off to the worst possible start, losing opener Michael Griggs to the first ball of the day, caught by Ben Parker off the bowling of James Poulson.
The fireworks then began, with the experienced Suffolk county pairing of Michael Comber and Kyran Young putting on a quickfire 52 for the second wicket.
Both then fell in quick succession. Comber struck three sixes in his innings of 25, accrued off just 20 balls, when he was caught by William Shropshire off pace-man Jonny Gallagher, and skipper Young also went for 25, which included a six, caught by Kenny Moulton-Day off the bowling of Billy Moulton-Day.
From 52 for one, Frinton lost their last nine wickets for just 80 runs, despite Merv Westfield (25) and Thomas Benn (10) adding 32 for the fourth wicket.
The hard-hitting Westfield faced just 28 balls for his 25, before he became one of Huggins’ four victims. Benn was also removed by Huggins, as the visitors lost their last seven wickets for a mere 47 runs.
All the Sudbury bowlers took wickets. In addition to the excellent Huggins, Poulson took two for 35 off 5.4 overs, and Gallagher claimed one for 32 off eight overs. Dustin Melton’s accuracy was rewarded with figures of 6.5-2-11-2.
Sudbury lost Suffolk county skipper, Adam Mansfield, for just five, caught by wicketkeeper Benn off Young, but by then the hosts had already advanced to 36 with Huggins in the mood for an early finish.
Huggins struck 14 fours in his knock, while Batch, like he had done in the previous weekend’s win over Copdock – when he played second fiddle to the free-scoring Mansfield – again played the anchor role.
“We won convincingly in the end,” continued Batch, who faced 67 balls for his unbeaten 40.
“Tom (Huggins) again played very well. When he is in that sort of form, a target of just 130-odd is simply not enough.
“I just gave him support, playing that supporting role.
“The situation is the same, with the other two (Swardeston and Great Witchingham) also winning, but there’s only three matches left now.
“If we win our next two, then it all comes down to Swardeston on the final day,” added Batch.
Sudbury are away at Suffolk rivals Mildenhall this Saturday, before also playing away at bottom club Horsford the following weekend.