GIBBS DENLEY EAST ANGLIAN PREMIER LEAGUE
Sudbury 216-6 Horsford* 265-9
SATURDAY saw Sudbury host second-placed, Norfolk side Horsford at Friars Street.
Horsford won the toss and decided to bat first in a bid to secure maximum batting points.
Sudbury’s search for early wickets did not prove fruitful, until Hasantha Fernando struck to remove opener Nathan Warnes for 15, caught at slip by Darren Batch.
The second wicket partnership of O’Connell and Matthew Warnes began to build and looked increasingly difficult to break.
That was until the introduction of left-arm spinner Ben Reece. He bowled with plenty of flight and found excellent length to accompany the huge turn he was able to get from the wicket.
He beat O’Connell in the flight and drew him out of his crease before ripping it past the bat to leave Mansfield with an easy stumping for the second wicket. Reece’s second wicket came via an lbw, as he bowled the ball flatter, again deceiving the batsman who was trapped on the crease.
A stunning, diving catch from veteran Simmons at cover gave Reece his third wicket to leave Horsford 83-4.
With lunch approaching, Batch decided to give youngster James Poulson a couple of overs to break the fifth wicket partnership that had seen Horsford advance to 122.
The plan worked as Poulson had Wilkinson caught at cover by Fernando to give Sudbury the boost of a fifth wicket before lunch.
Unfortunately, the after-lunch period followed the same pattern as the previous week and Horsford were able to build a competitive score.
Reece continued to take wickets but he and the other bowlers did not bowl with the same control after the break.
This allowed Horsford to reach 265-9, frustratingly leaving Sudbury one wicket short of another point. Reece finished with figures of 6-70 off 18 overs, an excellent bowling performance and his second five wicket haul of the season.
Sudbury’s chase was always going to be a difficult one as they needed five runs an over from the start.
Horsford took the negative decision to open the bowling with spin and set defensive fields that did not allow the batsman to score runs without taking huge risks.
Sensibly Sudbury opted to bat with caution and accumulate runs where and when they could.
The early departure of Jay Phillips, last week’s hero, brought Alistair Younger and Batch together. They put together a solid second wicket stand that took Sudbury to the brink of tea only one wicket down.
Unfortunately, both batsmen played expansive strokes that led to them being caught before the interval, bringing Poulson and Sri Lankan Fernando together.
Defiant partnerships were built between Poulson, Fernando and Nathan Poole, scoring 33, 34 and 36 respectively to leave Sudbury in a safe position to ensure the draw but with no chance of winning the game.
All that was left was to gain as many batting points as they could. This is where Reece came in to round off his day with 26 from 20 balls to propel the score to 216-6 by the close of play.
Sudbury gained ten points from the draw but slipped a place in the table as other results went against them.
They travel to Vauxhall Mallards next weekend for another tough test.