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Caught in the Middle with Ron Raisey: Picturesque grounds are a pleasure to visit

I start my column this week by congratulating my local club Stowmarket, on gaining promotion back to Division Five at the first time of asking with two games still to be played.

They have always prided themselves on giving younger players a chance and this season it has paid dividends with big contributions from both Stuart Lilley and George Tillbrook, and also from Dale Watling who has returned to the club this year.

The most unlikely winners were Worlington, who won at high-flying Witham by 28 runs. Batting first they struggled to 106, thanks to Jimmy Watson’s 59 before their bowlers went to town, cleaning up their opponents for just 78, with Sean Cooper leading the way with 4-19, ably backed up by Kiwi Ben Hyde 4-25. This Saturday they entertain struggling Hadleigh.

Hadleigh will consider themselves unlucky to lose to Coggeshall by just one wicket, Hadleigh 167, Kyle Tanner 60, Coggeshall 168-9, Mark Simmonds 3-15.

Halstead achieved a much needed victory over Mistley by 42 runs, Halstead 242-9, Mark Johnson 55, Mistley 200, Sam Walter 3-28. Next up is a visit to fellow strugglers Braintree.

Haverhill, without skipper Adam Dellar were well beaten by Braintree by 70 runs. Braintree 246, Anthony Phillips 3-20, Haverhill 176-7, Dan Pass 31. A trip to Coggeshall is the next date in the diary.

Mildenhall look to be marching onwards towards the EAPL play-offs with yet another victory, this time over bottom club Copford by 91 runs. Overseas Aussie star Steve Taylor scored an impressive 128 in a total of 299-9, Copford made 208-9 with Ashley Clark taking 3-27. Taylor has now passed the 1,000 run mark in the Two Counties this season at an average of just over 75. Frinton IIs are the visitors to Wamil Way this weekend.

Lakenheath had a much needed victory last Saturday, beating Ipswich by 105 runs. Lakenheath 256-6, Shane Leech 105, Dominic Palmer 84, Ipswich 151, Danny Rodic 3-39. This Saturday they entertain Easton.

Long Melford lost to Easton by five wickets, Long Melford 205-7, Dale Brett 79, Ipswich 209-5, veteran Lawrence Hall 4-58. It’s a home game this Saturday against Dunmow.

Bottom club Exning predictably lost to unbeaten Maldon by five wickets. Exning 121 Ollie Lawson 58, Maldon 124-5 Peter Woods 2-33. This week sees them play host to Mildenhall IIs.

One of the perks of being an umpire in the Two Counties league, apart from the obvious cricket teas, is the opportunity to visit some absolutely delightful grounds. From the perfectly-manicured, such as Mildenhall and Frinton, to the picturesque delights of Exning, Worlington and Halstead, they all have many appealing factors.

I am a firm believer that if you are on a league panel, you go to wherever you are appointed, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose, or how far you travel. I always enjoy going to a different club each week, meeting players old and new. I hope I can still be seeing these grounds and players for a good few years to come.

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