Tim eyes quick return after career-best haul

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ESSEX’S Tim Phillips had the Victory Ground in a spin after taking five wickets for a career best against Unicorns on Sunday.

And the slow left-arm specialist, who received the Bury Free Press man-of-the-match champagne, will never forget his eight-over spell at Bury St Edmunds Cricket Club after a full-strength Essex side strolled to an eight-wicket victory.

Phillips, who was born up the road in Cambridge and has been with the club since he was 18, said: “It was a good win for Essex and that was the most important thing, we came here and took the two points which we believed we could get.

“It was a tricky wicket that did not allow for free-stroke making as the score would suggest. It was a comfortable run chase in the end though.”

Phillips, who took figures of 5-28, the best of the 30-year-old’s career, added his Essex team-mates and himself would welcome a quick return to play at Bury again, having left it 17 years since their last visit.

“We enjoyed coming here, were well looked after and I think we could come back here,” he said.

Bury Cricket Club’s president David Barker said the day, which saw Alastair Cook’s first game since being named England’s One Day International captain, had been a resounding success.

More than 1,000 people are thought to have surrounded the boundary, with residents at the Nowton end hanging out of their windows to catch a glimpse of England Ashes hero Cook and World Cup player Ravi Bopara, as well as the powerful Graham Napier’s return from injury.

“From Bury St Edmunds’ point-of-view it has been a tremendous success,” said Barker.

“We have had bigger crowds than this, but we thought if we got 1,000 we would be delighted and so from that point-of-view it was great.

“For a club ground to host a first-class game is no easy undertaking, but it was fantastic for people to come here. I think the general organisation has been spot on and people have loved the atmosphere with it not being a county ground.”

Unicorns won the toss and elected to bat first on a day where blazing sunshine beated down with very little cloud cover and only a slight breeze.

But on a dry and unpredictable wicket, they struggled after openers Mike Thornley and Robin Let went for 26 and only a 58 from Chris Benham helped them reach past a century, on 137 all out after 37.5 overs.

In reply, Essex returned the total for just two wickets, though stretching it out over 34.1 overs.

Opener Mark Pettini (48) and fourth batsman Ravi Bopara (29) were unbeaten, while Alastair Cook, who played some wonderful fours, fell for 38. Napier hit a magical six, the only one of the match, in his brief but sweet 11.

The result left Essex in second place in the table after four matches.