Rain denies Suffolk victory chance

Cricket: SUFFOLK have still to win a Minor Counties Championship match since the competition went to three days at the start of last season.But skipper Phil Caley still considers it the way forward.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK have still to win a Minor Counties Championship match since the competition went to three days at the start of last season.

But skipper Phil Caley still considers it the way forward. While some other counties are pushing for a return to a two-day competition, the long-serving Caley wants to keep things as they are.

Rain denied Suffolk the chance to wrap up what would have been a deserved victory in their match against Cumberland at Bury St Edmunds yesterday.

Suffolk had set the visitors a daunting target of 360 to win from 102 overs on the final day, but in the end a maximum of 36 were possible.

Persistent rain kept the teams in the pavilion until 3.0 pm and with fielders all round the bat Cumberland had progressed to 95 for 3 by the tea interval.

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Caley then weighed up the situation and with a minimum of 15 overs remaining decided to call an end to proceedings.

Cumberland, who placed second fiddle throughout this match, were at one stage tottering slightly on 21 for 2, thanks to a couple of catches by Matthew Catley at short leg to remove both openers, Gary White and Dean Williams.

But a third wicket partnership of 54 between Robert Mason and Ollie Clayson put paid to Suffolk's slender chances of forcing the win.

Ironically, from 4.30 pm onwards the weather improved dramatically. Minor Counties rules mean that games on the final day should finish at 5.30 pm to allow visiting teams to drive home. On the two previous days play can continue up to 7.30 pm.

If this had been possible yesterday Suffolk would surely have collected a welcome win. "With the bowlers I have at my disposal we would have removed Cumberland in a little over two sessions," said Caley.

"We struggled to come to terms with the three-day game last year, but we have learned a lot from this match. We have opted to use youngsters in the Minor Counties and will stick with that.

"We have enough talent to win games and it will not be long before we collect a win. Perhaps on the Ransomes wicket in Ipswich when we play Hertfordshire starting on Sunday week."

Returning to the debate about three-day games Caley argues against critics who say it takes up too much time for players who have to juggle cricket with full time employment.

"There are a number of plusses to three-day matches," added Caley, a 38-yeare-old who has missed just two Suffolk gamers since coming into the Suffolk side as a teenager.

"It helps to bring youngsters on. In the two-day game batsmen often have a few overs to slog some runs at the end of an innings. This is no good. Now they can learn how to play proper cricket.

"And it takes pressure off the captains. To get a result on a good wicket captains had to get on with each other so that they could try and get a result. Most victories were contrived in some shape, size or form, as there was just not enough time to bowl sides out twice in two days on good wickets.

"Once club groundsmen get the message and produce good three-day pitches, Minor Counties cricket will benefit. And Suffolk have enough talented youngsters to make a big impact in the not too distant future. Three-day cricket is the way should be played."

Suffolk (11 pts) drew with Cumberland (8).


First innings: 307 (C Warn 58, P Caley 57, M Catley 49, P Lawson 5 for 85).

Second innnings: 204 for 6 dec ( M Catley 54, C Warn 51).


First innings: 152 (J Lewis 59 no)

Second Innings

G White c M Catley b King 12

D Williams c M Catley b Smith 7

R Mason b Swallow 28

O Clayson not out 34

M Lewis not out 12

Extras 2

Total (for 3, 21 overs) 95

Fall: 1-21, 2-21, 3-75.

Bowling: Smith 8-0-37-1, King 4-2-7-1, East 3-0-16-0, Morton 3-0-21-0, Swallow 3-0-14-1.