McGarry: I nearly joined rivals

ANDREW McGarry led Cambridgeshire a merry dance with three wickets - and then revealed that he came within a whisker of joining Suffolk's opponents in their current Minor Counties Championship game.

By Elvin King

ANDREW McGarry led Cambridgeshire a merry dance with three wickets - and then revealed that he came within a whisker of joining Suffolk's opponents in their current Minor Counties Championship game.

The 22-year-old pace bowler has helped put Suffolk in a winning position after the home side enjoyed a superb day of cricket at a burning hot Mildenhall yesterday.

Now playing for Colchester and East Essex and called into the Suffolk side as a professional in place of Trevor Smith, McGarry said: “Ian Flanagan was a team-mate of mine at Essex and he recommended me to join him at Cambridgeshire. But they came in a few hours too late as I agreed to play for Suffolk just prior to their previous match against Lincolnshire.

“I have no regrets and have enjoyed my four days cricket with Suffolk so far. We must now push on and hope to get a win over the next two days.”

Their wonderful day yesterday - which says much for the hard work of director of cricket Kevin Brooks and county coach Andy Brown - has given Suffolk a big boost prior to next Sunday's Minor Counties Knock Out Cup semi-final.

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Skipper Phil Caley won the toss and from that moment everything went the way of the home team against bottom of the table Cambridgeshire.

Victory will see Suffolk go second in the Eastern Division table and should keep alive their hopes of winning the title 100 years after they first entered the tournament.

Suffolk bowled well to dismiss the visitors for 158 in just over 50 overs and then the Suffolk openers went to town to put on 198 for the first wicket.

Both Andrew Mawson and Ben France scored centuries, caressing the ball around the large Mildenhall ground with great skill. Mawson was the first to reach three figures, and it was his third century of the season for Suffolk.

Soon afterwards he was caught at mid-on attempting to keep the score moving - and this left France five overs in which to complete his first ever ton for the county.

He achieved this from the penultimate ball of the day having lost first night watchman McGarry, who perished for one run.

Paul King took over as night watchman and stayed with France until the end of a highly satisfactory day for Caley's side.

They play Berkshire in Sunday's cup semi-final with a place at Lord's at stake for the winners.

Devon Malcolm took three more wickets to continue his good run since joining Suffolk for this season including a wicket with his third ball.

All the bowlers did well taking full advantage of what seam was available on the usually placid Mildenhall track.

The star, however, was McGarry, who bowled 17 overs and took three wickets for 28 runs.

Mawson struck 15 fours and took 147 balls for his century while France, who has been a revelation this season and is near the top of the list of run-getters in the championship, struck three sixes and 12 fours in his 181-ball ton. He went to his 50 with a six, four and another six in successive balls.

Suffolk have already picked up a maximum four bowling points plus one for reaching 175 runs and, weather permitting, they were looking to score 325 today so that they could pocket full batting points as well.

Only an irritating last wicket stand of 43 held up Suffolk against a Cambs side that lost skipper Ajaz Akhtar just before the start with a reaction to a stress-fracture to his lower leg.

Mawson was batting on his home Mildenhall ground and never made an error while France should have been run out when on 71 when he was sent back by Mawson and slipped in the middle of the wicket.

He was saved when the throw from 15 yards was hurled in and went wide of the keeper enabling France and Mawson to take a single.

This incident emphasised the struggle that the near-demoralised Cambridgeshire side found themselves up against on a day when Suffolk chose to field and everything came up roses.

Ian Morton bowled well at an important time while vice-captain Chris Warn took four catches and made every one look simple.

If the weather holds sufficiently, then Suffolk will fancy picking up their third win of the season - and their first at home.

They will then hope that Bedfordshire fail to beat Buckinghamshire in their current game so that the Eastern Region title goes down to the final set of matches when Suffolk play Bucks and current leaders Beds play Cambs.

Smith, who has served Suffolk so well in his three seasons, helped his Derbyshire club Ockbrook reach the final of the National Cockspur Cup yesterday when he had the dilemma of captaining his side as opposed to playing for Suffolk. Smith has now booked a place at Lord's on September 7, the day after the Minor Counties KO Cup final is played at the same venue.