All-rounder Swallow helps secure a draw

CHRIS Swallow proved that dropping out of the East Anglian Premier League has done him no harm when he starred on the final day of Suffolk's drawn Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich.

By Elvin King

CHRIS Swallow proved that dropping out of the East Anglian Premier League has done him no harm when he starred on the final day of Suffolk's drawn Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire at Ransomes Sports Ground, Ipswich.

The off-break bowler notched his first five-wicket haul for the county, which helped to keep a grip on Staffs in their second innings so that when the declaration came Suffolk had more than a fighting chance of at least saving the game.

Whether they could score at five an over to win - they were set 223 in a minimum of 40 overs - was an improbable task based on the scoring rates of the three previous innings.

And when Swallow, who has opted to play for Copdock in the Two Counties Championship rather than Clacton in the EAPL this year, came to the crease Suffolk were in deep trouble at 45 for five.

But he is yet to be out in this competition in 2007 and scored an unbeaten 54 - his half-century coming off 76 balls. He featured in a century partnership with Chris Warn, who notched his 57 from 73 balls.

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Suffolk will look back on two rain-affected draws with some dismay, and they now have to get their act together - and improve their batting - to win at least three of their remaining four matches to stand a chance of topping the group.

Suffolk have yet to gain a single batting bonus point this year while they have gained the maximum bowling points on offer.

Skipper Phil Caley, who made his Minor Counties debut in 1982, passed 9,000 runs in the competition during the game leaving only Simon Clements (9,219) ahead of him in the Suffolk record books.

And he said all was not lost as Suffolk look to top the Eastern Division for the second time in three years.

“We should not have lost too much ground as other counties also suffered with the weather over the last three days,” said Caley.

“It is a bit disappointing as we did miss a chance. We did not chase a difficult total very well although I am not concerned yet about a lack of runs from the top order.

“On a bowler-friendly track scoring at five an over was never going to be easy, and we were on the wrong end of a couple of unlucky decisions.

“Chris Swallow came of age last season and did fantastically well with bat and ball in this game, while Chris Warn showed what he is capable of when he gets himself in.”

Despite the recent heavy rain, for the second day running play started on time, which is a credit to groundsman Ray Forsdike and his assistant Bob Hart. Few grounds in Suffolk would have staged so much play over the last two days as this Ransomes wicket.

Caley felt he was too many runs behind to declare overnight, so batted for a further 10 overs before making a declaration.

Swallow smashed a pavilion window with a straight four that bounced up and shattered the glass, while Staffs all-rounder Mo Sheikh took his wicket tally to four.

With players and spectators alike wrapping up well to gain some semblance of warmth on a bitterly cold day, Staffs did strike a couple of sixes but were generally kept in check as conditions continued to assist the bowlers.

At lunch the visitors were 89 for one after 25 overs, and the afternoon session saw Swallow and Paul King bowl unchanged before Staffs skipper Richard Harvey called a halt to the innings after 45 overs.

This left Suffolk needing to score 223 in a minimum of 40 overs to take the 16 points on offer for the victors.

The hard-hitting Tom Huggins was the key to Suffolk getting off to a dominating start that they could build on. But he was out caught behind after the umpires conferred to agree that the ball had carried, and when Suffolk's main batsmen failed to put up any resistance they were in jeopardy of losing a game for the first time in 22 months.

Swallow then joined the equally impressive Warn to steady the ship and gain control of proceedings with a 106 run partnership. The game was played to the finish - 6.30pm - before Suffolk collected their second drawn game of the Championship season.

Ransomes scoreboard

Suffolk (8pts) drew with Staffordshire (8)


First innings: 178 (Sheikh 58, Smith 3 for 36, Bishop 3 for 59).

Second innings

R King c King b Swallow 63

S Moreton c Warn b Smith 13

C Howell c Lee b King 34

R Harvey c Warn b Swallow 8

M Sheikh c Caley b Swallow 30

S Seadon lbw King 7

G Cairns c Bishop b Swallow 0

P Goodwin c King b Swallow 0

E Jones not out 9

G Morris not out 7

Extras 19

Total (for 8 wkts dec) 190

Fall of wkts: 1-38, 2-104, 3-128, 4-150, 5-157, 6-168, 7-173, 8-177.

Bowling: Smith 6-0-21-1, Edwards 9-1-33-0, Bishop 5-1-23-0, King 15-1-49-2, Swallow 11-2-52-5.


First innings (overnight 99 for 5)

N Lee lbw Sheikh 30

C Swallow not out 27

J Bishop c Snape b Morris 7

P Edwards c Cairns b Sheikh 4

P King not out 3

Extras 16

Total (for 8 wkts dec) 146

Fall of wkts: 6-109, 7-138, 8-142

Bowling: Sheikh 23-8-45-4, Snape 11-2-37-2, Seadon 8-1-30-0, Morris 9-3-29-1, Jones 3-2-1-1.

Second innings

B France b Jones 16

T Huggins C Goodwin b Sheikh 20

M Cull b Snape 1

N Lee c Goodwin b Sheikh 2

P Caley c Goodwin b Jones 4

C Warn c Snape b Morris 57

C Swallow not out 54

J Bishop not out 0

Extras 9

Total (for 6 wkts, 45 overs) 163

Fall of wkts: 1-28, 2-35, 3-41, 4-43, 5-45, 6-151.

Bowling: Sheikh 17-5-46-2, Snape 10-3-43-1, Jones 8-0-34-2, Seadon 2-0-6-0, Moreton 3-1-21-0, Morris 5-1-9-1.