Dramatic finale sees Suffolk clinch victory from the jaws of defeat against Staffordshire to win the National Counties Cricket Association Eastern Division One title and set up a play-off final against Oxfordshire
A record 10th-wicket stand of 89 saw Suffolk secure an extraordinary victory over Staffordshire and with it the National Counties Cricket Association Eastern Division One title.
With Norfolk having already secured a four-wicket win at Cambridgeshire, the title appeared to be heading north of the Waveney when last-man Ben Claydon walked to the wicket.
All-rounder Claydon, who had suffered a back spasm while bowling on Monday, joined Adam Mansfield with Suffolk on 281-9 requiring 370 to win not only the match but be crowned champions.
With the aid of Ben Parker as his runner, Claydon and Adam Mansfield chipped away at their target as the shadows lengthened over the outfield at Copdock & Old Ipswichian CC yesterday.
They reduced it to 49 off the last eight overs, 20 off four and 11 off two, before Mansfield struck two fours and two singles either side of Claydon scoring a single to complete an incredible victory with seven balls to spare (watch the last two overs in the video below).
Claydon, who earlier in the day had been told by a physio to rest for two weeks, was undefeated on 51 off 52 deliveries containing six fours. Mansfield ended 47 not out from 65 balls with five fours.
Victory lifted Suffolk back above Norfolk in the final standings and means they now will face Western Division One winners Oxfordshire in the four-day play-off final at Tring Park in Hertfordshire, starting on Sunday, September 5.
The day had started with Staffordshire on 187-4 in their second innings – a lead of 240 runs – with the two captains agreeing a target for Suffolk to chase later in the day.
That led to Mansfield, who had never previously bowled for Sudbury in the East Anglian Premier League let alone Suffolk, taking off his wicket-keeper’s pads and bowling in tandem with batsman Ben Shepperson.
Mansfield took a wicket with his first ball and they finished with two wickets apiece as Staffordshire’s batsmen made hay in the sunshine, scoring 129 runs in just 17 overs.
That took their total to 316-8, setting Suffolk 370 to win in what amounted to 92 overs.
They made a disastrous start, Darren Ironside falling for a first-ball duck, before skipper Jack Beaumont and Alex Oxley shared a second-wicket stand worth 146.
Joe Gatting was then run out by a direct hit by Michael Hill after being called for a sharp single by Oxley, who added 43 with Shepperson to hoist Suffolk to 250-4.
However, the loss of three wickets for the addition of only six runs followed and then Oxley, who had anchored the innings with 121 off 211 balls with 11 fours, was leg before to Toby Bulcock, to leave Suffolk 270-8 requiring exactly 100 runs and staring at defeat.
When Matt Wareing was run out 11 runs later Staffordshire looked set to wrap up a comfortable victory, before Mansfield and Claydon’s heroics.