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Norfolk all-rounder France takes centre stage on rain-hit day

PUBLISHED: 00:59 25 July 2017

Ben France on his way to his best Minor Championship bowling figures. Picture: Tim Ferley

Ben France on his way to his best Minor Championship bowling figures. Picture: Tim Ferley

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Ben France's rich vein of form continued on a weather-hit second day of Norfolk's Minor Counties Championship clash with Cumberland at Manor Park.

Norfolk line up for a team picture before the start of day two. Back row (left to right): David Bowker (chairman of selectors), John Ewart, Rob Taylor, Brett Stolworthy, Ben Coote, Sam Arthurton, Sam Groves, Graham Richardson (scorer). Front row: James Hale, James Spelman, Chris Brown (captain), Ben France, Jason Reynolds and 12th man Connor Green. Picture: Tim FerleyNorfolk line up for a team picture before the start of day two. Back row (left to right): David Bowker (chairman of selectors), John Ewart, Rob Taylor, Brett Stolworthy, Ben Coote, Sam Arthurton, Sam Groves, Graham Richardson (scorer). Front row: James Hale, James Spelman, Chris Brown (captain), Ben France, Jason Reynolds and 12th man Connor Green. Picture: Tim Ferley

Persistent afternoon rain prompted an early finish yesterday, with only 33 overs having been bowled, but there was still time for the all-rounder to make his mark.

France added three more wickets to his tally to finish with his Championship best figures of 7-90 from 29.4 overs as Cumberland slipped from 162-6 to 219 all out.

Having started the day level that left the visitors with a lead of 57, and it had been reduced to 41 by the premature close, with James Spelman and Sam Arthurton taking the Norfolk reply to 16 without loss.

France, who had match figures of 8-158 in the previous festival match against Suffolk, quickly took centre stage again yesterday when he had Cumberland dangerman Ross Zelem caught behind by Sam Groves, having added just six runs to his overnight 68.

He struck again almost immediately to remove Toby Bulcock, caught by James Spelman for a duck, and having reduced the hosts to 173-8 Norfolk then had hopes of keeping the deficit down to a minimum.

But, as it turned out, patience was required, with Sam Wood knuckling down to add 46 for the last two wickets with tailenders Chris Hodgson and Adam Syddall.

Ben Coote eventually broke the first partnership by having Hodgson caught by John Ewart for five, while France appropriately had the final say by having Syddall caught behind for six.

That left Wood stranded with a useful unbeaten 36 to his name.

With Rob Taylor and Brett Stolworthy unused yesterday, France and Coote did the bulk of the bowling, their partnership only broken by six overs of spin from skipper Chris Brown.

Coote ended up sending down 18 overs in total as he finished with the respectable figures of 2-56.

By then the skies were looking threatening and there was only time for five overs of Norfolk’s second innings before the light rain turned persistent, with a halt to proceedings finally confirmed at 5pm.

Today’s play is set get under way at the earlier time of 10.30am,

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