Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Norfolk were unable to force victory on the final day of their Unicorns Minor Counties Championship clash with Bedfordshire – leaving both teams still searching for their first three-day victory of the season.
Five wickets from 21-year-old Ryan Findlay was the highlight of the final day of the clash at Manor Park, the second of the Norfolk Festival of Cricket, in front of a healthy crowd anticipating a tense finish.
In the end that exciting finish didn’t work out and Beds built a big enough score to see the game declared a draw.
That was after Beds had been bowled out for 309, leaving Norfolk with 256 to chase down for victory, but with only a couple of hours of play left in the match.
Day three started with the game delicately poised, with Norfolk 57 runs ahead after declaring at 351-9 late on Monday afternoon, after an excellent knock of 166 from Sam Arthurton – who was named man of the match.
Beds did not begin their innings until yesterday morning though and made steady progress throughout the day.
Openers Charlie Thurston and Luke Thomas put on 59 for the first wicket, before Ben France removed Thurston for 35.
Findlay, who plays club cricket for Horsford, then took the first of his fivefer 28 runs later when he had Thomas caught by stand-in skipper Garry Park to leave Beds on 87-2.
Findlay and France then continued to make good progress during the middle of the day, although couldn’t break the stubborn resistance of Dan Blacktopp, who patiently built an 134-ball 56.
When Findlay finally got that wicket, his third, it was Peter Lambert who took the catch to dismiss Blacktopp for 56 and leave Beds on 169-6.
Findlay then accounted for Martin Weightman for 16, to put Beds on 190-7 and resurrect hopes of victory for Norfolk – but the visitors had a sting in their tail.
Alex Martin and Alex King put together a patient 50 partnership to steady the ship, with Martin responsible for 40 of those runs before being caught and bowled for 53 by Ashley Watson.
King carried on regardless though and put together another strong partnership, of 40, with George Bacon.
When Findlay bowled King out for 34, from 93 balls, that completed the bowler’s first ever five-wicket haul at county level and left Beds on 280-9.
Tail-enders Bacon (20) and Shabz Hussain (23) managed to extend that total to 309 before their side were all out, with Lambert and wicketkeeper Stephen Gray combining to stump Bacon, to leave the prospects of victory looking slim on either side.
With it looking unlikely that either team would be able to settle the match in the overs remaining, the match was declared a draw.
It also provided some welcome respite for Findlay, after bowling 41 overs on the day, nine of which were maidens, to finish with figures of five wickets for 115 runs.