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Ben Parker atones for first-ball duck by helping Suffolk to victory over Cambridgeshire

Sudbury’s Ben Parker admitted he was worried for his Suffolk future after being dismissed first ball on his return to the county side after a three-year absence, writes Nick Garnham.

The 23-year-old chipped a simple return catch to Cambridgeshire’s Harrison Craig as Suffolk won the opening match of two T20 encounters by three wickets at Woolpit CC on Sunday.

But Parker, who was making his first appearance since June 2017, atoned in style by top-scoring with 65 as Suffolk were victorious by 17 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in the second match.

Ben Parker sweeps the ball for four on his way to top-scoring with 65 for Suffolk in the second match. Picture: Nick Garnham (41125002)
Ben Parker sweeps the ball for four on his way to top-scoring with 65 for Suffolk in the second match. Picture: Nick Garnham (41125002)

Parker said: “I was a bit worried after the first-baller in the first game. I thought ‘oh no, here we go again!’ It was not the best start, so I was really pleased to get some runs and contribute.”

He also praised ex-Kent, Middlesex and Leicestershire all-rounder Neil Dexter, with whom he added 39 for the third wicket.

Parker said: “He was fantastic. When we were batting together he was talking me through it and helping me out and took all the pressure off me and made it easy for me at the other end.

“He has so much experience it is great playing with people like that and you just try and learn as much from them as you can.”

Only the loss of four wickets as just one run was added with eight runs required had prevented an even more emphatic Suffolk victory in the opening encounter.

Cambridgeshire, batting first, were restricted to 118-8 in their 20 overs, with opener Ben Harris, who ironically played for Suffolk in their last T20 fixture double-header of the 2019 season, top-scoring with 31 off 25 balls.

Dexter and Tom Rash took two wickets apiece, while there was one each for Jack Beaumont, Billy Moulton-Day and the returning Matt Wareing.

Suffolk appeared to be cruising to victory thanks to a half century from former skipper Adam Mansfield at the top of the order, despite Dexter being dismissed for a second-ball duck.

However, Mansfield was one of four wickets, including Parker, to fall in the space of six balls with Suffolk closing in on victory, before they completed a three-wicket win with six balls to spare.

Parker opened the innings in match two and made the highest score of the day, striking six fours and three sixes in his superb 45-ball knock.

Mildenhall’s Jack Potticary, also on debut, made 26 for the second time in the day and Dexter’s 31 off 24 deliveries enabled Suffolk to post an imposing 166-5.

Skipper Beaumont (4-0-31-3) and Josh Cantrell (2-0-9-0) kept the visitors in check, while fellow spinner Freddie Heldreich also impressed as Cambridgeshire’s reply reached 130-7 with 12 balls remaining before the heavens opened.

With no chance of a resumption, Suffolk were declared winners by 17 runs on DLS.

The two teams will meet again this coming Sunday, August 30, in a 50-overs-a-side contest at Exning CC (11am).