Skipper hits ton as season starts with emphatic win

EARLY EXIT: Opener Jonathan Phillips in action for Sudbury at Woolpit Picture: Roger Arbon MBFP-20-04-13 RA 216
EARLY EXIT: Opener Jonathan Phillips in action for Sudbury at Woolpit Picture: Roger Arbon MBFP-20-04-13 RA 216

Skipper Darren Batch enjoyed a double celebration on Saturday, scoring a century as Sudbury opened the season with an emphatic victory.

Batch weighed in with 109 runs as Sudbury reached 236-8 — and then East Anglian Premier League newcomers Woolpit were scuttled for 62 on their own pitch, giving the visitors a 174-run victory.

Sudbury, who warmed up with a visit to Llandudno, Wales, where they played a Twenty/20 and a 50-over game the week before, hit the ground running.

“It sets us up for the season,” said Batch. “It’s always nice to get off to a winning start. This was a game we targeted as one which we could win, and it showed the benefit of all the hard work we put in over the winter.”

Batch was full of praise for Rory Darkins, who played for Cambridge Granta last season, and who hit 59 on his Sudbury debut.

“It all went to plan. We won the toss and batted, and after losing our openers Rory and I set our stall out to be still there at lunch. He has the experience of playing Premier League, and he supported me.”

Batch said the pair played sensibly in their 166-run partnership, something that deserted Sudbury after the 60th over, with six wickets falling in the last six overs.

“That is something we need to work on,” he said. “We didn’t accelerate as we would have liked. You have to be selective about which balls you would like to attack, and not try to hit every ball to the boundary. And there were two avoidable runouts. But that’s a small criticism of the team’s performance.”

Sudbury’s bowlers also earned his praise, particularly James Poulson. “He decimated their top order. His chances last season were limited because we had Hasantha Fernando in the team. Hopefully they will be more frequent this season,” he said.

Poulson took three wickets, including that of Michael Jones, who was the Two Counties Division One top run-getter last season. Jonathan Gallagher also weighed in with three wickets and Darkins picked up two, as Woolpit found the going tough.

But Sudbury face a potentially much sterner test Saturday (11am) as Vauxhall Mallards come to Friars Street. Mallards, long established in the Premier League, were runners-up last season.

“We are under no illusions that things will get tougher, and they don’t come much tougher than Mallards,” said Batch.