Suffolk’s title hopes end but Sudbury duo get career bests

PLEASING RETURN: Darren Batch took part in his best ever innings for Suffolk in their rain-affected draw with Cumberland at Ipswich School this week
PLEASING RETURN: Darren Batch took part in his best ever innings for Suffolk in their rain-affected draw with Cumberland at Ipswich School this week

Suffolk’s chances of winning the Eastern Division of this season’s Unicorns Championship were washed away with the rain at Ipswich School, writes Nick Garnham.

Needing to defeat Cumberland to stand any hope of overhauling leaders Lincolnshire, the loss of 18 overs to rain either side of tea in the visitors’ second innings on Tuesday scuppered any realistic chance of victory.

Jaik Mickleburgh was dismissed for 99 — the second time in the match he had fallen just short of a century — as Suffolk set Cumberland 304 to win in a minimum of 69 overs before the rain intervened.

Cumberland were 163-5 when the captains agreed to call the match off as a draw with neither side in a position to win with 10 overs remaining.

Suffolk took 11 points from the match and Cumberland 10 points, meaning the visitors stay second and are two points ahead of third-placed Suffolk heading into the final round of matches.

The match saw Sudbury duo Darren Batch and James Poulson record career-bests for Suffolk.

Batch, who was appearing in his first three-day fixture for seven years due a combination of work and family commitments, scored 72 off 122 balls with seven fours in Suffolk’s first innings.

He featured in stands of 65 for the fourth wicket with ex-Essex batsman Mickleburgh, who made 96, and 67 with Sudbury colleague Adam Mansfield, who struck a run-a-ball 38, for the seventh wicket.

Poulson, who returned to the team after missing the last two three-day fixtures, returned the impressive figures of 32-11-74-4 in Cumberland’s first innings reply, which closed on 273-9 — just 15 runs shy of Suffolk’s total.

Opening the bowling, Poulson bowled with great control and got his just rewards towards the end of the innings when he picked up three late wickets.

When Suffolk batted again, Batch made 23 and Mildenhall skipper Ben Shepperson gave the innings some middle-order impetus with 43 from 38 deliveries, including seven fours and one six.

Copdock & Old Ipswichian duo Tom Rash (26 not out) and Jack Beaumont (24) together with Poulson, who clubbed 35 off just 18 balls with seven fours before being last man out, saw Suffolk dismissed for 288 for the second time in the match.

After reducing Cumberland to 113-5, with Poulson taking one wicket, a second shower straight after tea saw the loss of a further 11 overs, effectively ending Suffolk’s chances of victory.

n Sudbury duo Dave Hinchcliffe and Colin Walters, as well as Long Melford’s Stuart Carpenter and Hadleigh’s John Stuck, have been named in the Suffolk Over-50s side to host a President’s XI at Elmstead CC next Wednesday (1.30pm).