Suffolk's hopes are ruined by rain

CRICKET: AT 2.15 pm yesterday, with a strong sun beating down, play was officially called off for the day.At a stroke Suffolk had lost their chance of winning the Minor Counties Championship.

By Elvin King

CRICKET

AT 2.15 pm yesterday, with a strong sun beating down, play was officially called off for the day.

At a stroke Suffolk had lost their chance of winning the Minor Counties Championship.


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A tropical downpour that hit Mildenhall's Wamill Way ground minutes before play against Buckinghamshire on Sunday was to blame.

The rain was so intense that it flooded under the covers – ruling out play on Sunday and yesterday as well.

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With further overnight rain the wicket had not dried out this morning and plans to play a one-innings a side match was abandoned.

So it was a wasted three days for Suffolk - when it could have been so different.

Even if Suffolk had played and won today they would have still been unable to catch Eastern Region leaders Norfolk.

They could only have gained a maximum of 12 points from a two innings game – and this was not enough to overtake Norfolk, who began the final round of matches this year with an 11 points advantage and were playing at Jesmond against Northumberland Sunday and yesterday.

"We have to accept that we cannot now top the group and meet the western winners for the title," said Suffolk chairman Norman Atkins.

"It is very frustrating, but there is nothing we can do."

The weather was fine yesterday but the wicket still too wet for the umpires to start.

If the rain had arrived earlier on Sunday it might have been different however. Suffolk's Phil Caley won the toss and put Bucks in. Consequently, the visitors were understandably reluctant to take the field with a wet patch on a length at both ends of the wicket.

A club match would have started, but with the quality and speed of the bowling on offer, an injury or two could have been on the cards.

Such was Suffolk's keenness to play yesterday that they got Bury St Edmunds groundsman Bobby Flack to prepare a wicket at the Victory ground.

Both umpires and two captains travelled to Bury to inspect the wicket after lunch at Mildenhall – but the politically correct decision was to abandon play for the day.

Commercial air blowers were by this time at work at both ends of the Mildenhall wicket, but the considerable efforts proved fruitless in the end.

Norfolk had been let off the hook.

Ironically, on Sunday nearby Exning missed the storm and a full afternoon's cricket was played.

Suffolk play away to Bucks in the first round of the 2003 Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy on Thursday week.

"A missed catch at Northumberland, where we played our only hour of poor cricket, and three or four days of rain have ruined our chances of the title," said Suffolk coach Andy Brown as he looked back on a highly promising Minor Counties campaign.

"But we have made great progress this year and can look back with pride."

Suffolk can bring in an overseas player in place of Andy Hall against Bucks – but they are unlikely to do so.

Hall has been called back to play for South Africa A. "We have a good spirit in the Minor Counties side and the players who have served us so well in the Championship deserve their chance in the C and G," said Brown.

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