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Tom Harper and Darren Ironside play key roles as Suffolk defeat Norfolk in key NCCA Trophy test at Sudbury Cricket Club





Tom Harper and Suffolk held their nerve to keep alive their chances of reaching the quarter-finals of this season’s NCCA Trophy.

Harper claimed 5-50 as Suffolk defeated Norfolk by 19 runs in Sunday’s Group 2 game at Sudbury sponsored by Cahill Renewable and Electrical which saw 24 sixes and 56 fours to entertain a good-sized crowd.

Mildenhall’s Darren Ironside’s imperious 128 off 120 deliveries – his first white-ball century for Suffolk – underpinned Suffolk’s 331-6 after they chose to bat first upon winning the toss.

Darren Ironside hit 128 for Suffolk off 120 deliveries Picture: Mark Westley
Darren Ironside hit 128 for Suffolk off 120 deliveries Picture: Mark Westley

Ironside, who struck 16 fours and three sixes, received solid support from George Rhodes, who scored 38 in a third-wicket stand of 74 and then Alex Oxley, who added 126 for the fifth wicket.

Oxley, who had a reprieve on 29 when he was bowled after the ball dropped onto the stumps after hitting his helmet, smashed 4 fours and 4 sixes from only 48 balls received.

Jacob Marston then thrashed 25 from only seven balls at the death as Suffolk plundered 165 runs in the final 15 overs which was to prove pivotal to the outcome.

Alex Oxley made 60 for Suffolk Picture: Mark Westley
Alex Oxley made 60 for Suffolk Picture: Mark Westley

Norfolk openers Sam Arthurton and Ethan Metcalf posted an opening partnership of 123 off 18.1 overs in Norfolk’s reply.

Marston, who uncharacteristically missed stumping his Copdock & Old Ipswichian team-mate Arthurton on 30, made amends when the opener danced down the wicket to Suffolk skipper Josh Cantrell, 10 short of his century.

That left Norfolk 170-2 in the 27th over, but Ben Wilcox and Jordan Everett maintained the momentum and the odds appeared to be on a Norfolk victory before Wilcox was bowled by Harper for 46 with the total on 247 in the 39th over.

Harper clung onto a stinging return catch from Freddie Fairey, the first of three wickets to fall in quick succession as the visitors stalled at 260-6.

Mildenhall’s Darren Ironside celebrates his first white-ball century for Suffolk Picture: Mark Westley
Mildenhall’s Darren Ironside celebrates his first white-ball century for Suffolk Picture: Mark Westley

The match then swung dramatically back in Norfolk’s favour as wicket-keeper Charlie Hood pummelled 30 (including four of the day’s 24 sixes) off the 44th over bowled by Cantrell, to leave Norfolk 292-6.

Cantrell gained a measure of revenge when he clung onto a catch running back at mid-off to remove Hood for 38 off 15 deliveries and 30 were then required from the final four overs.

Dan Shanks struck again two overs later to bowl Brett Stolworthy and Harper completed his first five-wicket white-ball haul for Suffolk by dismissing Cameron Graveling from the third ball of the 49th over.

Sudbury Cricket Club’s Friars Street hosted Suffolk’s match with Norfolk in the NCCA Trophy on Sunday Picture: Mark Westley
Sudbury Cricket Club’s Friars Street hosted Suffolk’s match with Norfolk in the NCCA Trophy on Sunday Picture: Mark Westley

Ironside said of Harper’s performance: “He has done that all year and in the last few years as well, particularly in white-ball cricket. He has a knack of picking up wickets, so it is nice to see him doing well.”

Suffolk now travel to Herefordshire this coming Sunday for their final Group 2 game knowing a win would guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals of this season’s competition.