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Bury achieve 'The Great Escape'

WINNING PARTNERSHIP: Stanton and Commins ratcheted up 214 runs for the loss of no wickets in Bury’s final match (Picture: Mark Westley)
WINNING PARTNERSHIP: Stanton and Commins ratcheted up 214 runs for the loss of no wickets in Bury’s final match (Picture: Mark Westley)

Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club managed to escape the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League play-offs this weekend, with victory in their final league fixture.

It was an outcome that, at the beginning of August, looked near impossible as the side had only one win under their belts from their opening 15 matches – lying 77 points adrift at the foot of the table.

But an incredible five wins from six saw them close the gap to just 10 points, with survival riding on their final game away at Frinton-on-Sea.

And Bury (214-0) saved their best performance to last, seeing off fourth-placed Frinton (211-6) by an impressive 10 wickets, while relegation rivals Norwich fell to defeat at Sudbury – gifting their hosts successive championships while sealing their own play-offs fate.

Bury captain Sean Park said there were some ‘very relieved boys and club members’ following the result.

“We were at the bottom of the table,” he said. “I think the play-offs were very expected, even if we knew there was a chance of avoiding them, our results this year weren’t in our favour.

“So there are some very relieved boys and club members.

“It was a great way to finish the season, with a final game victory to avoid that fight to stay in the league.

“We all had an eye on the Fakenham game on the Sunday (the play-off semi-final that Norwich ended up playing), so it’s great we didn’t need to play it.

“It’s frustrating though, we won six of our last seven games, if we’d done that at the start of the season, we could have been competing at the top of the table.”

HIGH FIVE: Bury won five in a row to spark their comeback (Picture: Mark Westley)
HIGH FIVE: Bury won five in a row to spark their comeback (Picture: Mark Westley)

Bury won seven of their 11 50-over matches this season, but failed to win any of their 11 60-over games.

It is a record Park knows the team must improve on if they want to be competitive in the league next season.

“We need to find our mojo quicker, that’s what was missing,” he said. “ We became more confident as the season went on and started to believe in our abilities.

“We play better with the pressure it seems as well, treating every game like a cup final did the trick – but we can’t keep expecting to get out of it and there’s a lot of work to do.

“Hopefully we can recruit one or two batsmen over the winter as that’s been our weak point.

“And I also hope the side have learned what they need to, to avoid this happening again – we’ve done the hard bit and I think there’s a really big future for the players and the club.”

The performance of overseas batsman Murray Commins (121 not out) and Hugh Stanton (68 no) backed up Park’s comment, as they single handedly batted the side to a 10 wicket victory in the team’s final match.

Commins, Park said, had been the ‘standout player’ of the season, scoring 996 runs – including four not out performances – in his 21 innings.

“Fingers crossed we can keep him into next year,” Park said. “He was our standout player, with the bat.

“But we will also need a bowler to step up if we want to be competitive next season.”

George Loyd topped the club’s wicket takers this season with 28, with one five-wicket haul, and collected another two against Frinton, including the key wicket of Jaik Mickleburgh (119).

Dominic Manthorpe took three – to record an 18-wicket haul from his nine games this season – while James McKinney the other as they held Frinton to a 211-6 score, before Stanton and Commins caught the total in just 32.3 innings.

Greene King Players of the Week: Murray Commins, Hugh Stanton and Dominic Manthorpe.

On Sunday, Norwich won against Fakenham and Saffron Walden defeated Worlington in the EAPL semi-final play-offs, with the two winners due to play on Saturday for a place in the top flight next season.

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