Suffolk hero will have to pinch himself

“I WILL have to pinch myself to confirm I am really playing at Lord's,” said Suffolk pace bowler Martin Smith.The Clacton bowler took six wickets as Oxfordshire were skittled out for just 65 in Suffolk's three-wicket victory on Sunday.

By Elvin King

“I WILL have to pinch myself to confirm I am really playing at Lord's,” said Suffolk pace bowler Martin Smith.

The Clacton bowler took six wickets as Oxfordshire were skittled out for just 65 in Suffolk's three-wicket victory on Sunday.

“I was brought up in South Africa, and Lord's has a magic over there. Just watching games on television from the ground gives you a buzz.

“I never dreamt that one day I would be playing there, and will have to pinch myself.”

Smith was left out of Suffolk's previous one-day game - their group-winning victory at Bedfordshire last month.

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“I was 12th man then, but you have to take these things and not dwell on them,” he added. “This was one of my best-ever bowling performances. I was suffering from a touch of flu, but once I settled into a rhythm it all worked out well.

“Although it got a little nervy at the end, we have a long batting line-up.

“I have been made very welcome, having joined the set-up this season, and the spirit in the camp is tremendous. It has not been hard to adapt.”

Norman Atkins, a former Minor Counties umpire and current Suffolk chairman, said: “I am delighted for all the players after the near misses in recent seasons.

“And in particular for Phil Caley, who has put in so much hard work with the squad. My nails were down to the quick by the finish but we now have a chance to enjoy a wonderful day out.

“Lord's is the No.1 venue in the world, and Suffolk will soon be playing there.

“Hopefully, the weather will be fine and better than we are experiencing currently.

“Bring on Cheshire or Devon I say - we have an opportunity to put on a good show at the showpiece ground, and I think we will.”

Suffolk's director of cricket Kevin Brooks has galvanised the county into a professionally-run outfit over the last decade. And this will give him rewards for that work.

He said: “We needed someone to show composure and Chris Swallow did that to steer us home.

“Martin Smith had a devastating influence with the ball in a tension-filled day.

“In the conditions, and in the circumstances, it was always going to be a tricky chase - and we needed the composure we talked about before the start.

“Paul Grayson and Andrew Mawson are good players but we knew they were not available if the game went into a second day. We planned for it.

“Paul was still an influential figure to have around on a day when both sides bowled very well.”

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