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Rain ends Suffolk's reply

PUBLISHED: 14:10 10 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

CRICKET: Rain ruined yesterday's ECB 38-County Trophy game between old rivals Essex Cricket Board and Suffolk at Chelmsford.

Essex CB, inspired by a blistering innings from professional Graham Napier and a fine debut knock from Mohammed Akhtar, accumulated 272 from their allotted 50 overs.

CRICKET

RAIN ruined yesterday's ECB 38-County Trophy game between old rivals Essex Cricket Board and Suffolk at Chelmsford.

Essex CB, inspired by a blistering innings from professional Graham Napier and a fine debut knock from Mohammed Akhtar, accumulated 272 from their allotted 50 overs.

But rain intervened during the break between innings and Suffolk were unable to even start their reply.

The match was eventually abandoned as a draw at 4.45pm, leaving both sides unbeaten in the competition, although in unsatisfactory fashion.

Both could still win the group. Suffolk have beaten Hertfordshire and suffered two abandonments, while Essex CB have also defeated Hertfordshire and had one match abandoned.

Suffolk's last match is against Bedfordshire at Woodbridge School on Sunday, July 7.

Kevin Brooks, Suffolk's Director of Cricket, said: "Essex CB set us a challenging target, but we had already proved this season that we have the players to meet that challenge.

"It's disappointing to have another match ruined because of the rain. It's really just the luck of the draw, with sides playing their fixtures on different weekends, and so experiencing different weather conditions.

"We must now beat Bedfordshire and hope that other results go our way. It's in the lap of the gods," added Brooks.

Suffolk skipper Phil Caley won the toss and invited Essex CB to bat on what was the same strip used for Essex's Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final victory over Worcestershire last week.

Essex professional Napier gorged himself on Suffolk's early seam attack, to such an extent that he contributed 70 to an opening stand of 88 with Duncan Paveling.

Front-line batsman Napier took advantage of the fielding restrictions of the first 15 overs, hitting cleanly over the top of the infield.

He reached his half-century off just 41 deliveries, and plundered 11 fours and two sixes until a fit-again Kevin Shaw claimed his wicket in the 14th over – otherwise, a prolific Napier would surely have taken Essex CB to a daunting total.

As it was, debutant Akhtar showed his class with an exquisite innings of 96. He was only considered for selection following his club side's (South Woodford) promotion to the Essex League Premier Division last season.

Akhtar passed 50 off 48 balls and smashed nine boundaries and three sixes during his entertaining stay at the crease. He shared a fourth-wicket stand of 77 with Andrew Kennedy.

Suffolk's five bowlers conceded runs at a similar rate. Chris Swallow took four wickets and both Shaw and James East weighed in with two.

Tony Debenham, secretary of Essex CB, enthused: "We were looking to strengthen our batting this year after the loss of a few experienced players, for various reasons, and Akhtar was excellent on his debut.

"He is a very strong driver of the ball, and was very unlucky to fall just four runs short of his century, dismissed by a fine catch from Phil Caley. He has proved this season that he can get runs in the Premier Division of the Essex League, as well as the First Division.

"The substance of our innings was built around him, although Graham (Napier) gave us a wonderful start with a variety of attacking shots during the opening overs.

"We were happy with our total, and so were disappointed that the rain intervened.

"But we know that if we can win our final two games, against Bedfordshire next week and at home to Cambridgeshire in a fortnight's time, then we will top the group," concluded Debenham.

Other ECB 38-County Trophy scores:

Group Four: Oxfordshire v Buckinghamshire. Abandoned due to rain. Group Three: Hertfordshire 65-5. Bedfordshire did not bat. Match abandoned. Group Seven: Norfolk 238-9 (SC Goldsmith 66) Nottinghamshire CB 99-3. Norfolk won on faster run rate.

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