Ironside inspires Suffolk success

August 17, 2022

DARREN Ironside inspired Suffolk to a splendid five-wicket win against Staffordshire to keep alive their chances of avoiding relegation this season.

Suffolk went into their penultimate NCCA Championship fixture of the campaign bottom of the Eastern Division One table, knowing they would need to win at least one of their remaining two matches to stay up.

Following Bedfordshire’s innings and 67-run victory over Norfolk inside two days at Horsford CC, Suffolk entered the final day of their fixture at Checkley CC knowing only a win would do to take their fate down to the wire.

They responded by firstly taking Staffordshire’s final four wickets for 58 runs to dismiss their hosts for 190 second time around, leaving Suffolk to score 281 for victory in 76 overs.

That Suffolk should even be in this position was no mean feat in itself, after taking to the field with one of, if not the youngest side, they have put out in a three-day match in the last 25 years.

George Rhodes was the eldest player aged 28 and three players, including Hadleigh’s 22-year-old debutant Dan Shanks (called up as Matt Wareing was ill) had previously played just one-and-a-half Championship matches between them!

Suffolk then lost the toss on day one and saw Staffordshire post 423 for 5 in their 90 overs thanks to a record third-wicket stand against Suffolk of 253 between Zen Malik (145) and Michael Hill, who thrashed ten fours and 11 sixes in his 152 – a record third successive century for Staffordshire.

Ironside, whose only previous century for Suffolk came exactly five years ago to the day – 125 not out in a three-wicket win at Bedfordshire – then took centre stage.

He shared a second-wicket stand of 127 with Alex Oxley, who was out next ball after reaching 50, before going on to compile 146 off 231 deliveries with 19 fours and one six.

Useful contributions down the order enabled Suffolk to post 333 all out off 88.3 overs, but they still faced a first-innings deficit of 90.

Staffordshire had extended their advantage to 220 for the loss of three wickets late on day two, before Ironside claimed two of three wickets to fall from the final 17 balls of the day, including Hill for 50 off the final delivery, to give Suffolk fresh impetus.

After wrapping up the hosts’ second innings, Ironside and Michael Godwin, put on 118 for the first wicket either side of lunch, before Witham’s Godwin was out for 53 – his first half-century for the county.

Ironside (pictured batting above) eventually fell for 81 with the total on 153 and Staffordshire sensed victory as Oxley (24) and Rhodes (20) fell to Paul Byrne, leaving the visitors 189 for 4 with 92 still required.

Ben Parker then joined Ben Claydon, who had claimed 5 for 67 – his first five-wicket Championship haul – in Staffordshire’s second innings.

They added 82 in 18 overs to steer Suffolk towards their target, Parker mixing aggression with cautious defence on his way to 55 off 63 balls, before charging Byrne and being bowled to give the slow left-armer his 250th and final county victim before retirement.

Claydon, who made 34 first time around, was unbeaten on 30 as skipper Jack Beaumont scored the winning runs with 5.2 overs unused to complete a remarkable turnaround and keep Suffolk afloat heading into their final match versus Bedfordshire, starting at Flitwick CC on Sunday.



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