Suffolk cricket in cash crisis

SUFFOLK'S hopes of a repeat of last season's successful cricket season could be hit by a lack of cash.A special meeting of the Suffolk County Cricket Association will have to decide whether to continue with a player/coach and a professional player.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK'S hopes of a repeat of last season's

successful cricket season could be hit by a lack of cash.

A special meeting of the Suffolk County Cricket Association will have to decide whether to continue with a player/coach and a professional player.

Former Derbyshire batsman Andy Brown filled the former role and pace bowler Trevor Smith the latter as Suffolk went to within one victory of winning the Eastern Section of the Minor Counties championship.

A rain-affected summer saw their final match at Mildenhall – against Bedfordshire – washed-out and with it the chances of catching leaders Norfolk.

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In the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy, Suffolk pushed Northamptonshire all the way before losing a nail-biting contest by just one wicket at Bury St Edmunds.

Lack of money filtering down from the English and Wales Cricket Board has resulted in Suffolk having to take stock and possibly having to go into matches with inexperienced sides.

"It is a relief that the England World Cup trip to Zimbabwe is still on," said Suffolk chairman Norman Atkins. "It keeps some money coming in.

"We have to decide whether we can afford to have a coach and a professional this year. Lower crowds and a lack of lucrative sponsorship at first class county level is not helping our cause."

Brown is due to play cricket for Chesterfield this year, but said that he wanted to continue his ties with Suffolk. He played a big part, along with director of cricket Kevin Brooks and skipper Phil Caley, in last year's success.

In 2002 Brown played his club cricket for Bury St Edmunds. Smith opened the bowling in most Suffolk games and the

ex-Derbyshire player proved a popular and effective replacement for former Test star Bill Athey.

Under-19 cricket has been scrapped by the ECB and the two-day game at that level has been replaced by one-day Under-21 matches.

Suffolk's first team has just eight certain games in 2003 – six in the Minor Counties Championship, plus matches in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy and Minor Counties Knock-Out Cup.

With board teams from first class counties not featuring in the 2004 competition, if Suffolk beat Devon on August 28 at Exmouth they will be guaranteed a first class opponent in the C&G Trophy second round next year.

The 38-county championship has been scrapped as part of the cost-cutting exercise and been replaced by a Minor Counties KO Cup. Suffolk play Bedfordshire at Copdock on June 8 after receiving a bye in the first round.

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