Bishop rips through Staffs batting

JUSTIN Bishop was the Suffolk hero as they played themselves into a winning position on the second day of their Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire at Stone.

By Elvin King

JUSTIN Bishop was the Suffolk hero as they played themselves into a winning position on the second day of their Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire at Stone.

The 24-year-old Bury St Edmunds left-arm bowler demolished the Staffs' top order in the final session of play to leave Suffolk with what looks like a formality of collecting the last five wickets today and collecting 21 points.

This will put them in contention to retain the Eastern Division title when they play their final match against leaders Lincolnshire at Bury St Edmunds starting on Sunday week.

Bishop needed just two balls to finish the Staffs' first innings, and after Suffolk had set the home team 396 runs to win he destroyed any hopes Staffs had of reaching that huge target.

His fellow Bury bowler Andrew McGarry forced the dangerous and experienced Kim Barnett to drag a ball on to his stumps early on and then Bishop got to work.

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He made the ball swing, which is something the home seamers were unable to do, and with the help of a superb slip catch by skipper Phil Caley and a smart stumping by Chris Warn, Bishop ended the evening with four wickets.

In Staffs' first innings he posted his best ever Suffolk bowling figures of six for 33 having come into the side at the back end of last season and having been released by Essex last year.

While Bishop bowled magnificently the Suffolk openers also deserve credit.

Andrew Mawson, recalled to the side because of a hamstring injury to Chris Schofield, scored his sixth Suffolk century and was out caught behind on the last ball before tea after a fluid and confident knock.

He was partnered in a wonderful opening stand of 122 - only just short of the record Suffolk opening stand against Staffs set by Derek Randall and Russell Catley in 1996 - by Tom Huggins who was his usual belligerent self in making 75 with shots all round the ground including a huge six.

The 100 came up in the 25th over but once Huggins had been caught the following Suffolk batsmen struggled to take command and only 77 runs were added in the two hours 20 minutes of play between lunch and tea.

Gareth Morris bowled unchanged from the start of the afternoon session with his left-arm spinners while 45-year-old Barnett bowled his 25 overs in one spell.

Chris Swallow was one middle order batsman to find form and he struck a succession of boundaries all around the ground.

After being dismissed for their

lowest ever total against Suffolk - the previous was 98 in 1986 when Suffolk paceman Russell Green was among the wickets - Staffs knew they were up against it when they began their

second knock.

However, with the pitch appearing to get easier, there was always a chance they could reach the unlikely target.

With Bishop making up for the absence of Chris Schofield it turned out to be a thoroughly successful day for the Suffolk camp.

And with news from other games, it is looking as though Suffolk's position should be improved by this evening.

The injured Schofield watched proceedings for much of the day and stayed with the team last night and he should be fit for the final game against Lincolnshire.

Bury St Edmunds' overseas player Andrew Tweedie is staying with the Suffolk party as the South African used to be a professional for a club in the Staffordshire area. He was helping with the warm-ups and meeting up with a few old friends in the area.

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