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Frustrating final day at Manor Park as Norfolk are forced to settle for draw

PUBLISHED: 00:53 19 July 2017

Norfolk all-rounder Rob Taylor in full flight on a frustrating final day at Manor Park. Picture: Tim Ferley

Norfolk all-rounder Rob Taylor in full flight on a frustrating final day at Manor Park. Picture: Tim Ferley

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Entertainment was in short supply at Manor Park yesterday as the opening match of annual Norfolk Festival of Cricket fizzled out into the tamest of draws.

Suffolk's Alex Oxley followed up a half century with a duck against Norfolk yesterday. Picture: Tim FerleySuffolk's Alex Oxley followed up a half century with a duck against Norfolk yesterday. Picture: Tim Ferley

Visitors Suffolk batted virtually the whole of the final day to ensure honours would end even after starting it with a slender 23 run lead.

They were eventually dismissed for 243 late in the afternoon - but by then the stalemate had been well and truly confirmed, with Norfolk openers James Spelman and Sam Athurton only required to bat five overs before the stumps were drawn.

It was a disappointing end to a match that never really recovered from the loss of more than 20 overs to rain on Sunday, although good knocks on day two from Rob Taylor (100) and Chris Brown (69 not out) at least gave supporters something to remember it by.

Both teams picked up 11 points for their efforts, with Norfolk now aiming for something more positive when they take on Cumberland in their second Festival match starting on Sunday (11am).

Suffolk's Jaik Mickleburgh shone in the familiar surroundings of Manor Park yesterday. Picture: Tim FerleySuffolk's Jaik Mickleburgh shone in the familiar surroundings of Manor Park yesterday. Picture: Tim Ferley

The hosts made a bright start yesterday as they looked to force an unlikely victory, with Suffolk’s first innings heroes Martyn Cull and Alex Oxley both going cheaply to Taylor and Ben France respectively.

But former Norfolk and Horsford player Jaik Mickleburgh stood firm and found a willing ally in Ben Shepperson, with the pair taking the score past three figures before the latter was trapped leg before by Brown for 32.

Mickleburgh was then caught off the final ball before lunch from James Hale for 64, and when a another couple of wickets went just after the break to leave Suffolk on 133-6 a positive result was still a possibility.

But Suffolk then dug in to end any such hopes, with Kyran Young masterminding the rearguard action with an innings of 49.

Tailender Hugo Douglas also played his part with an unbeaten 16 while Tom Rash came into bat with a hand injury at No 11 and added 20 to the total, although by then it was of academic interest only with Norfolk having no time to get anywhere near a nominal target of 255.

France and Brown both took three wickets to end up with impressive match figures of 8-158 and 6-139 respectively while Taylor took 3-58 yesterday.

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