Lincs CCC edge closer to third title

Alex Willerton.
Alex Willerton.

Lincolnshire CCC moved closer to a third successive Unicorns Eastern Division title following their draw at fellow challengers Suffolk.

The result extended Lincolnshire’s lead at the top to six points and victory with at least three bonus points from their final match at Carlisle against Cumberland, commencing on Sunday, September 2, would secure top spot.

Adam Tillcock returned to the side and on winning the toss Lincolnshire elected to bat at the Ipswich School.

The in-form Joe Kendall was first to fall with the total on 29 and Jack Timby followed for 37 with the total on 74.

Louis Kimber, together with Bilal Shafayat, added 49 before Kimber was caught behind for 46.

With the score on 180 Adam Tillcock was bowled for 28.

There then followed the partnership of the innings between Bilal Shafayat and Dan Freeman as they added 126 for the fifth wicket to take Lincolnshire past the 300 mark, Shafayat falling for a fine 134.

Lincolnshire’s innings closed on 339 for 5 after their allotted 90 overs with Freeman not out for a valuable 53.

Suffolk lost two early wickets and finished day one on 46 for 2 off 17 overs.

On day two Lincolnshire quickly dominated the match and reduced the hosts to 73 for 5 and 124 for 8, with Alex Willerton being instrumental in their downfall.

A last-wicket stand of 60 between Michael Comber (59) and Ollie Bocking (15 not out) saw the hosts finally dismissed for 203 in the 71st over, Alex Willerton with 6 for 49 being outstanding.

With a lead of 136 Lincolnshire’s aim was to extend their lead to more than 300 and openers Joe Kendall and Jack Timby gave them a perfect start putting on 124 before Timby was caught for 55.

Louis Kimber, Bilal Shafayat, and Dan Freeman were all dismissed for low scores as Joe Kendall progressed to a fine century, his third of the championship season.

Lincolnshire closed day 2 on 177 for 5, a lead of 313.

On the morning of day three Lincolnshire batted on to extend their lead and finally declared on 233 for 7, setting Suffolk a target of 370 off a minimum of 85 overs.

By lunch Suffolk had reached 58 for 2 and an interesting afternoon’s play was anticipated.

The Lincolnshire attack soon made inroads into the Suffolk batting and by mid-afternoon they were 135 for 7, with Lincolnshire poised for victory.

There then followed a remarkable stand of 97 by Michael Comber (56 not out) and Tom Rash (49) to frustrate the Lincolnshire attack, and going into the final hour a tense session of play ensued.

Numerous bowling changes failed to obtain the vital breakthrough until two late wickets produced a tense finish.

It was, however, not to be and Suffolk held out for a draw ending on 246 for 9, Willerton and Tillcock with 3 for 64 each.

Lincolnshire took 12 points from the match and Suffolk took seven.