Suffolk lose Championship opener

July 11, 2023

CENTURION George Rhodes said it was frustrating to suffer defeat after Suffolk lost their opening Durant NCCA Championship Eastern Division One match of the season.

Suffolk went down to Staffordshire by 51 runs at Bury St Edmunds CC on Tuesday after being bowled out for 242 just short of the start of the final hour’s play on the third and final day.

Staffordshire had held the upper hand after winning the toss and posting 387 for 8 declared on day one, thanks to skipper James Kettleborough’s imperious 141 and 81 from Zen Malik, the pair adding 159 for the second wicket.

Suffolk’s bowlers did well to restrict the visitors in the latter stages of their innings, red-ball debutant Freddie Heldreich returning figures of 21-1-117-5.

Captain and opener Jack Beaumont passed 1,000 Championship runs for the county with his first scoring shot, but Suffolk looked as though they could be forced to follow on when they slipped to 163 for 7.

Josh Cantrell, who top-scored with 67 off 88 deliveries, and Andy Northcote added exactly 50, before Heldreich (36 off 45) joined Cantrell and they put on 67 as Suffolk ended 106 runs adrift.

Staffordshire extended their lead by a further 48 before a splendid diving catch by Adam Mansfield at mid-on off Heldreich’s first delivery sparked a collapse as Suffolk again fought back.

Spinners Beaumont and Cantrell took two wickets apiece to reduce Staffordshire to 81 for 5, before the visitors, who were indebted to Kettleborough’s run-a-ball 92, were eventually bowled out for 187 on the third morning, all ten wickets falling to spinners.

That left Suffolk requiring 294 to win the match and any realistic chance appeared to have disappeared when Suffolk lost their first four wickets for 36 runs.

However, Rhodes held firm and together with Ben Parker (34 off 49) added 58 for the fifth wicket, and then Rhodes and Andy Northcote set a new seventh-wicket stand for Suffolk against Staffordshire of 114.

While they were together the improbable seemed possible, but with 82 still needed Northcote was adjudged leg before for 40 made from 90 deliveries.

Rhodes, whose 110 occupied 175 balls and contained nine fours and two sixes, fell in the same manner as slow left-armer Tom Brett cleaned up to finish with figures of 5 for 79.

Rhodes (pictured above acknowledging his century) said afterwards: “Winning games is what it is about and I felt we were in a real position to win that game today.

“It is nice to get a hundred but at the same time with how I felt used to the pitch and how I was seeing the ball, it was my responsibility and the lads that got in to try and take us over the line, so it is really frustrating that we have lost.”

Suffolk’s focus will now turn towards their NCCA Trophy Semi-Final versus Cumbria at Sudbury on Sunday, start 11am.


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