Pineo the star as Suffolk scramble

CRICKET: RICHARD Pineo posted his first half-century for the county as Suffolk scrambled to 264 in their first innings on day one of the Minor Counties Championship match against Cambridge-shire at Mildenhall yesterday.

RICHARD Pineo posted his first half-century for the county as Suffolk scrambled to 264 in their first innings on day one of the Minor Counties Championship match against Cambridge-shire at Mildenhall yesterday.

Suffolk pegged the visitors back to 32 for three during the early evening, before former Essex stalwart Robert Rollins and Danny Wilson shared an unbeaten stand of 100 for the fourth wicket. They resumed today, trailing by 132 runs.

The game's turning point might prove to be a costly dropped catch by Chris Warn from the first ball that danger-man Rollins faced.

Wicket-keeper Warn got one hand to the ball, low to his left, after Pineo had induced an inside-edge, but he could not cling on at full stretch, much to his own annoyance.

Rollins scratched around for 20 minutes before finally getting off the mark with the first of many pugnacious square-drives to the boundary. The hard-hitting 27-year-old has already smashed 11 fours in his innings of 62, and Suffolk will need to claim his wicket early this morning to avoid further punishment.

The in-form Ian Graham (52) and skipper Phil Caley (71) were again amongst the runs, as they have been for much of this season, but it was all-rounder Pineo who steered Suffolk out of the mire, arriving at the crease with the hosts wallowing on 143 for six.

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Pineo, a student at Sheffield, played in harness with Caley until the latter was bowled by Ross Daynes with the score on 214. It was then up to Pineo to assume the principal role and boost the Suffolk total with company from the tail-enders.

Paul King offered some handy support in an eighth-wicket partnership of 46, and Pineo was eventually last out for 70, giving wicket-keeper Cristian Durant his third catch. Six other batsmen were dismissed leg before.

"It's a special innings for me to get my first half-century for the county. It took some time coming," explained Pineo.

"When I came in, we had lost two quick wickets and the fielders were closing around the bat. They sensed more wickets.

"There were a lot of gaps in the field, and I took advantage of that. They were prepared to let Phil (Caley) take the singles. When he got out, it was up to me to take the score on.

"Paul (King) hung around. It wasn't easy, with fielders around the bat. I was running out of partners at the end. It's a shame we couldn't have got to 275 and gained another batting point," added Pineo, who faced 91 deliveries and struck seven fours and two sixes in his excellent innings.

Earlier in the day, after Suffolk had won the toss and decided to bat, Graham produced another aggressive innings, dominating an opening partnership of 43 with Russell Catley.

Nottingham-based Graham, the former Bury St Edmunds all-rounder, struck one six and six other boundaries in his 52, compiled off 88 balls. He was second out with the score on 76.

Bill Athey contributed 24 and Caley, fresh from scoring 95 in the previous match against Stafford-shire, again never gave the bowlers time to settle. The Suffolk skipper, who has scored 10 centuries for the county in an impressive career, fired nine boundaries in a responsible innings. But Suffolk really needed either Graham or Caley to go on and notch a hundred.

Still, opening bowlers Pineo and Gary Kirk took a stranglehold during the first hour of the visitors' reply. Clacton bowler Kirk had Rob Pryor caught at second slip by Athey in the third over of the innings, and Pineo trapped Ben Potter leg before on the back foot.

Kirk then deceived Chris Jones with a superb delivery that nipped back and clipped the off stump to leave Cambridgeshire struggling.

It could have been even better for Suffolk, had Warn held onto Rollins' inside edge. The extent of the damage will be known later today.

Kevin Brooks, Suffolk's director of cricket, said: "It was a very difficult catch, especially from an inside edge, but Chris is very disappointed because he would have expected to hold onto it. These things happen, but that would have been a big wicket for us.

"We have not really got going as a batting unit this season. We rather scrambled our way to 264. We had four partnerships of more than 40, but did not carry them through. We needed someone to go on and make a century.

"At one stage it looked as though we might not even make 200, until Phil (Caley) and Richard (Pineo) came together. Phil again scored his runs quickly, and we are very grateful to Richard for his contribution," added Brooks.

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