Suffolk looking to Lord's

SUFFOLK will be just two wins away from a Lord's appearance if they manage to get through their group in the 38 County Competition that starts on Sunday.

By Elvin King

SUFFOLK will be just two wins away from a Lord's appearance if they manage to get through their group in the 38 County Competition that starts on Sunday.

They begin with a match against Hertfordshire at Welwyn Garden City and then play Cambridgeshire, Essex and Bedfordshire. Finishing top of the group will see them reach the quarter-finals, and Suffolk aim to make up for last year's disappointment.

Player coach Andy Brown said today: "Last season we all but made the quarter-finals. We put in our worst performance of the season in the final group match and lost a rain-affected game against Herts.

"We aim to make up for that on Sunday. Having the chance to play at Lord's is a big incentive."

Suffolk make two changes from the side that beat Essex II in a friendly last weekend with Richard Pineo studying for university exams and Ian Morton on his stag weekend.

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Bill Athey, last season's professional who is only available for one-day games this year, comes in along with Copdock's James East.

Morton was a late addition to the weekend training camp held at Culford School last month.

"Gary Kirk told us that his Clacton team mate was available this season after recovering from a broken leg," explained Brown.

"We telephoned Ian on Saturday afternoon, and he spent the second day with us. This showed his commitment, and this is what we are looking for.

"Unfortunately Ian will not be available until June because of his wedding, but he should be free to play after that."

Brown, who suffered cramp in both hamstrings while helping Suffolk's win last week, praised skipper Phil Caley's contribution.

"Phil has missed two games in the last 16 seasons. These are the qualities that we want to see and typify what Suffolk is all about.

"With six three-day Minor Counties Championship matches to play we need players who can make themselves available throughout the season."

Two of last season's main bowlers will be missing for most of this term. Teenager David Cross is taking a break from top-flight cricket and has moved back to Tuddenham from Mildenhall, while savage batsman and experienced bowler Ian Graham is touring the world and will not be available until August.

Brown said: "We understand David's situation, and he will be back. Ian will have to fight for his place when he returns, but he could play a big part in next year's qualifying Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy matches on August 28 and hopefully September 12."

Suffolk's big game this year is on Wednesday May 29 when they play Northamptonshire at Bury St Edmunds in the third round of the 2002 C and G Trophy.

Two Suffolk players, Pineo and Paul King, have been selected for the English Universities squad this season.

Sunday's team: P Caley, A Brown, W Athey, R Catley, M Catley, C Warn, T Catley, C Swallow, T Smith, G Kirk, J East.

Tomorrow sees the start of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship season with Copdock, Browns and Tattingstone carrying the flag for the Ipswich area to win the First Division title.

The former went close last season, when they lost their last three matches to be pipped by Exning. They have chance for revenge tomorrow when the teams meet at Old London Road in a game that could have a big effect on the table at the end of August.

Browns, who have kept Australian Brendan Meagher, are at home to promoted Mistley. Tattingstone did really well in their first season at top level in 2001 and they are well equipped to enjoy another successful year.

The village club begin their competitive season with a home game against the other promoted side, Bury St Edmunds II.

Easton went close to promotion last year and they will want to get off to a good start at Chantry Park where they play Ipswich and East Suffolk. Felixstowe, like IES relegated last term, have re-grouped and play at Witham in what looks like being a competitive Second Division.

Can a Suffolk club grab the dominance from Norfolk in the East Anglian Premier League this season?

Formed in 1999, league winners so far have been Vauxhall Mallards and Norwich for the last two years.

Suffolk sides Bury St Edmunds and Mildenhall plus Essex clubs Clacton and Maldon will be vying for supremacy along with the Cambridgeshire trio of Cambridge & Godmanchester, Cambridge Granta and newcomers Ramsey when the season starts tomorrow.

Ryan Maron, a left-handed top-three batsman from Western Province, is the new overseas player at Bury with Chris Warn, now established as Suffolk's wicket-keeper, has joined the club from Halstead and should feel the benefit of four months spent in Adelaide.

Former captain Kevin Shaw is still recovering from a knee operation and will play as a batsman only until the end of May as he builds up his fitness. Andy Brown skippers aside that includes Suffolk director of cricket Kevin Brooks.

Mildenhall will also be under new captaincy this season. Brian How takes over the mantle from Andy Squire, while Norfolk all-rounder Neil Fox has joined from Swardeston and bowler Eric Wilson from Halstead.

Steve Lankester returns after a season off and former Essex duo Danny Wilson and Adam Seymour are in their ranks. Young bowler David Cross has drooped down to play for Tuddenham.

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