A welcome boost for the Suffolk Cup

SUFFOLK'S major club cricket cup has been given a massive sponsorship boost.It will turn the Suffolk Cup, which has been a rather low-key competition for the last few years, into a keenly sought-after prize.

SUFFOLK'S major club cricket cup has been given a massive sponsorship boost.

It will turn the Suffolk Cup, which has been a rather low-key competition for the last few years, into a keenly sought-after prize.

The rewards for winning are now much more than a trophy and 12 medals. Thanks to financial support from Harwich-based passenger shipping line DFDS Seaways, the competition becomes a whole new ball game.

The side that lifts the cup will be handed 15 free tickets for a three-day mini-cruise. And there will be much more interest in each round with the man of the match in all 15 ties receiving a similar prize.

There will considerable pressure on umpires who will be making the man of the match decisions. With a cruise at stake, competition will be intense from players of both sides.

DFDS have agreed to step in after successfully sponsoring Suffolk's Cheltenham & Gloucester match against Denmark at Copdock last year.

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Kevin Brooks, Suffolk's director of cricket, said: "This club sponsorship deal will provide a much-needed boost for the competition.

"It has been at the back of my mind what we could do to help club cricketers in the county as well as those at Minor Counties level. For the first time for a little while we have managed to secure a substantial sponsorship deal with a local company that will enable us to do something for club players.

"In recent years I believe there has been a certain amount of apathy towards the county's premier cup competition. The involvement of DFDS will go a long way to making players more enthusiastic about taking part."

Andrew Duley, commercial manager of DFDS Seaways, said they would be providing a new cup plus medals for winners and runners-up of both the main and plate competitions.

He said the mini-cruise prizes would be for three days and two nights from Harwich and the winners could sail to either Denmark or Germany.

Duley said: "We are trying to build the awareness of who we are in the local community of Suffolk and North Essex and this is an ideal way of doing so."

He added that DFDS hoped to also get involved in others areas of Suffolk cricket at school and county level.

Meanwhile, Suffolk have completed a double signing swoop ahead of the 2002 season.

The Minor County has agreed terms with former Derbyshire bowler Trevor Smith to be professional this season and also with South African all-rounder Justin Kemp to play in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy.

Brooks says that both players' registrations were virtually completed. Smith, who was released by Derbyshire at the end of last season, replaces former England opening batsman Bill Athey as Suffolk's professional. Athey's work commitments mean he will only play in Suffolk's one-day matches this summer.

Brooks said: "Our priority throughout the winter has been to try to find a quality seam bowler to bolster our attack. We hoped to sign Paul Taylor, the former England bowler.

"It has only been in recent weeks that we established Trevor has made himself available to play Minor Counties cricket. He has been unable to secure a contract with another first-class county.

"It is still his intention to get himself back into the first-class game one day."

The 25-year-old Derby-born right-arm fast-medium bowler will meet his new team-mates for the first time at a squad training weekend at Culford School on April 13 and 14.

Kemp is a 24-year-old South African Test and one-day international and was recommended by his cousin, fellow South African Dave Callaghan, who has played for Suffolk in the competition for the past three seasons.

Brooks said: "Obviously in addition to having Bill Athey and Trevor Smith, I am delighted that Justin Kemp has also agreed to play for us in our C&G Trophy campaign.

"We have had good value from Dave Callaghan, who has helped us immensely, and it is good that we have somebody of the quality of Justin to replace Dave as our overseas player this season."

Suffolk entertain Northamptonshire in the third round at Bury St Edmunds on May 29, with the winners at home to county champions Yorkshire, assuming they overcome Devon at Exmouth.