Grayson takes Suffolk to title success
Suffolk 219 (Grayson 87) beat Cheshire 184 (Dawson 51, France 4 for 36) by 35 runs
Paul Grayson's 87 proved the difference in the Minor Counties knock-out final, lifting Suffolk to an insurmountable 219 - and the trophy. Some tight bowling then had Cheshire stumbling to 26 for 3 and then squeezed them for the rest of their innings: Suffolk-ated as the tabloids may have had it.
Cheshire will now have to content themselves with a tilt at the Championship honours, having already claimed the Western Division, with their final against Eastern winners Northumberland.
This final, though, belonged to a determined Suffolk who pulled themselves back from 73 for 4, with the experienced Grayson played with an elegance and timing reminiscent of his first-class days. His stand of 85 with Chris Swallow (38) was the key partnership as they rebuilt and then marched on to a solid score.
Having chosen to bat, Suffolk were in early trouble against the tight lines of Chris Finegan and Adam Syddall. Finegan starred with the ball, taking three wickets, and had a hand in a run-out and two catches. He bowled with a hint of swing, and trapped Ben France (24) playing across the line. Soon after he ran out Tobias Hembray, going for a needless second.
Enter Grayson and Swallow, who both played unflappably, Grayson bringing up his fifty with a cover-drive punched off the back foot as he drove his way to a decent total. Nathan Dumelow, formerly of Derbyshire, eventually broke the partnership, Swallow rushing down the track and Matthew Dawson's neat hands doing the rest. Danny Woods struck soon after, inducing a thin edge off Phil Caley (1), and then Finegan dismissed Nick Warn for 7, flashing outside off.
But again Grayson stood firm, seeing Suffolk past 200, until he finally swiped to long-on. The innings tailed off quickly, Jason Whittaker trapping Paul King lbw (0) and claiming Martin Smith holing out to long-on to bring the innings to a close.
This may be a clash of the minor counties, but there was some major talent on display, not least Grayson. Paul King and Martin Smith were hostile from the start, and Cheshire's top order had no answers to their control.
Ben Spendlove briefly threatened with 49, but his dismissal - Justin Bishop tempting him to feather his awayswinger through - prompted a minor collapse of some major wickets: James Duffy popping a simple return to Grayson, then Bishop struck again with a similar removal of Chris Bassano. A consolation fifty came for Matthew Dawson, but his efforts were more damage limitation than anything and Ben France cleaned up with four wickets.
King and Bishop bowled intelligently in a game of one-sided chess - not to mention Smith, Grayson and later on France - and soon it was checkmate for Cheshire.
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo