PLAY-OFF FINAL Sudbury 296 beat
by 144 runs
Darren Batch could not hide his pride after leading Sudbury Cricket Club back to the East Anglian Premier League following play-off final joy.
Having lifted the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Division One title, Sudbury faced one last hurdle to make a return to the highest level of club cricket they could reach in the form of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire Premier League champions Godmanchester.
But in what looked like a close contest at one stage after Sudbury set a target of 296, inspired by a knock of 109 by the skipper himself, the hosts blitzed their way to victory as spin twins Tom Huggins (4-32) and Akeal Hosein (4-33) proved pivotal, ripping through the visitors’ batting order to seal promotion and set up mouth-watering derby days with Bury St Edmunds, Burwell, Woolpit and Copdock next season.
“The first aim was to win the league but the ultimate aim we had as a club was to get promoted back to the Premier League,” said Batch.
“Winning the league was a stepping stone to do that, and we showed what a brilliant team we are, and I’m really proud of the lads.
“I was captain when we got relegated, and it was very tough, so personally to be the captain to get us back is very pleasing.
“The club said at the start of the season it was our only aim to get back, and I’ve had brilliant support from the chairman and all the board which has made a big difference.
“I can’t thank them enough for the work they do and personally it is a very proud moment.
“We have assembled a strong squad over the last two seasons and hopefully we will be capable of competing in the Premier League.
“We are under no illusion it is going to be tough but we’ll be prepared.
“There are the likes of Bury, Copdock, Burwell and Woolpit up there. It is great to be joining them and we have a lot to of great local games to look forward to again next season.”
Having won the toss and electing to bat Sudbury got off to a slow start and failed to pass the 100 mark until the 28th over, including a spell of only 13 runs in 10 overs.
Openers Huggins (26) and Nathan Poole (37) struggled to really find their rhythm while the likes of Ben Reece (1), Steve Witham (11) James Poulson (4), Kenny Moulton-Day (8), Al Younger (2) and Billy Moulton-Day (0) all failed to make telling contributions.
However Batch led by example, smashing his way to a vital knock of 109, and was ably supported by the impressive Hosein who added a valuable 66 runs as Sudbury gave themselves a chance of defending a solid total of 296 off their 50 overs.
And while Godmanchester were always ahead of the equivalent Sudbury total over-by-over early on, courtesy of a strong start from Tariq Aziz (20) and Nick Wilmer (44), an unbroken spell of 19.1 overs by Huggins (4-32) and Hosein (4-33) proved the visitors’ downfall as wickets began to tumble at regular intervals and Godmanchester’s hopes of victory disappeared.
It was left to Huggins to claim the wicket of Baldwin (2), sealing victory and promotion, and sparking wild celebrations on and off the field.