Schofield's regret despite eight wickets

CHRIS Schofield had one regret after taking the eight Herfordshire wickets to fall on the second day of Suffolk's Minor Counties Championship game at Long Marston.

By Elvin King

CHRIS Schofield had one regret after taking the eight Herfordshire wickets to fall on the second day of Suffolk's Minor Counties Championship game at Long Marston.

The leg spinner, who played two Test matches for England in 2000 has never taken nine wickets in an innings.

“I have done eight before, but never nine,” he said. “I was hoping I could do it this time and for a while it looked as though we might force Herts to follow on.

“But I have to be happy with eight - and we still have a chance of winning this game if we can score quickly enough in the morning to set Herts around 250 to get in the final two sessions.”

Suffolk lead by 72 runs after the first innings and thanks to Schofield taking a wicket in his final over, gained the maximum eight bonus points.

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He was struck for five late sixes as the home team went for runs as their quota of 90 overs came to a close-with 32 runs coming off his final two overs.

But this should not detract from a highly professional and skilful show from the wily spinner on a wicket that did not suit the pacemen.

Without him in the side Suffolk would have struggled to have gained a first innings lead, with fellow spinner Chris Swallow giving Schofield excellent support.

Schofield bowled 32 consecutive overs with Swallow bowling unchanged for 22. If Andrew McGarry had held a catch at long-on off Aaron Laraman when the home player was in the 30s, Suffolk's lead could have been considerably greater.

This was off Swallow, who conceded just five fours in his marathon spell to confirm his worth to Phil Caley's side.

Rain arrived as forecast at mid-afternoon, just as Suffolk were about to start their second innings. A halt for the day was called at 5.40pm, perhaps a little prematurely with the clouds lifting soon afterwards.

This could prove costly to Suffolk today, as an hour's extra play last night up to the cut-off time of 8pm could have seen 17 overs and around 100 runs to Suffolk.

If they are to lose ground on the Eastern Division leaders because of more bad luck with the weather, it will be a big blow to their hopes of retaining the title.

But there is still a chance of a result with the wicket likely to take more spin on the third day.

“It is a very flat wicket”, added Schofield, who played first class cricket for Lancashire. “And with a fast outfield, runs can be scored quickly. So any declaration will have to be finely judged.”

The players came off after just ten balls, that only proved to be a short shower with Herts' skipper, Andy Lewis and opener Chris Stead looking solid.

Lewis went to a fine catch by Nick Lee at short leg when he juggled the ball with his right hand low down a couple of times before holding on.

Former Surrey star David Ward was the main Herts danger man and after he survived a sticky opening against Schofield and Justin Bishop, he was beginning to blossom when he was deceived by Schofield and offered a caught and bowled chance that was eagerly snapped up.

The steady Stead had reached 53 in the 52nd over when he was caught off a skier and when keeper Tom Jenkins was flummoxed by Schofield's first ball, it looked on the cards that the home team might be all out for less than 216 and possibly be asked to follow on.

Laraman patted away Schofield's hat-trick ball and his innings of 69 could have a big bearing on the game. He was the only batsman to handle Schofield well and after surviving his one life, he was stumped looking for a third consecutive six in the final over.

Tony Skeggs and Simon White gave him good late back-up, and last man Phil Carlson struck the first of the two balls he received for a six.

n Tim Catley's first century for Suffolk on the opening day of their current match against Hertfordshire was scored after he dispensed with contact lenses.

The 28-year old who scored 126 said: “I have batted in lenses for the last six years. Fielding for Bury St Edmunds against Clacton ten days ago, I had a problem and had to take them out.

“I went on to be unbeaten when we batted and then scored a century the next day in the Suffolk Cup against Yoxford.

“If anything, I thought my eyesight had worsened, but it has certainly done my batting no harm, dispensing with my lenses.”

Catley, who often wears glasses in everyday life, is also the regular first team goalkeeper for Ely City in the Ridgeons League.

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