Suffolk start countdown to big day out

JULY 1 2007 was a significant date in the English calendar. It was also a momentous day in the history of Suffolk cricket.When Suffolk-born Justin Bishop played the ball into the covers for a single at 7.

By Elvin King

JULY 1 2007 was a significant date in the English calendar. It was also a momentous day in the history of Suffolk cricket.

When Suffolk-born Justin Bishop played the ball into the covers for a single at 7.04pm it signalled a three-wicket victory over Oxfordshire and a place in the Minor Counties Trophy final at Lord's on August 27.

On the day when smoking was banned in public and work places, Suffolk ignited a flame that will surely shine brightly for the next eight weeks.

It might not quite be in the class of Ipswich Town reaching Wembley stadium in the FA Cup final, but it still promises to be a red letter day for the county - and for the hundreds of Suffolk followers who are set to make the trip to the game's headquarters on Bank Holiday Monday.

Suffolk's first-ever competitive match at Lord's will unquestionably rekindle interest in Phil Caley and his team and ensure that 2007 will have a chapter of its own when the history of Suffolk cricket comes to be written.

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Caley's side has four Minor Counties Championship games before they walk through the famous long-room and out on to the hallowed turf for a final against Cheshire or Devon, who are still to resolves their semi-final after rain washed out both days' play on Sunday and Monday.

Competition will be keen to fill the 11 coveted places on offer - starting with a three-day game against Northumberland that begins at Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.

Paul Grayson, the Essex coach who has a dual registration with Suffolk and could well play a vital role in the Trophy final, is in no doubt that Suffolk deserve their big day out.

“Suffolk have played a lot of excellent cricket over the last few years, and after losing two semi-finals they fully deserve to be at Lord's.

“I have played there in major finals - and have scored two centuries at the ground - and the buzz never leaves you.

“I was so nervous the first time I played in a big game at Lord's and this is something the Suffolk lads will have to cope with.

“But the team is professionally run and I sure they will give a great account of themselves.”

Either Grayson or Surrey's Chris Schofield - also on a dual registration with Suffolk - are likely to add their experience to the team on August 27.

Regular pace bowler Paul King, who has made Gordon's School, near Woking a force in schools cricket over the last four years and is touring Suffolk with his squad this week, has been left with a dilemma.

The PE teacher, who has not lost a Suffolk one-day game since they were beaten by Shropshire in the Trophy semi-final at Copdock in 2004, has a holiday planned for the end of August.

“I have booked to go to Portugal for a week's break, but will hopefully be able to fly out later to be available for the final,” he said.

FORMER Suffolk batsman Adam King watched the Minor Counties Trophy semi-final win over Oxfordshire at Challow & Childrey CC. He is now head groundsman at nearby Radley School.

ONE of the few Suffolk supporters to make the trip to Oxfordshire on Sunday was the intrepid Ray Slegg.

And the Ipswich-based supporter of all sports has his own exciting sporting occasion planned.

He will be a member of the Ipswich CAMRA cricket side that is playing two games in Prague on July 13 and 15. Adverse to flying, he will make the journey to the Czech Republic by train.

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