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Norfolk hold their nerve to keep hopes of reaching the Unicorns Knockout Trophy last-eight alive

PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 May 2015

MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve Adams

MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve Adams

Skipper Chris Brown and his Norfolk team-mates kept their cool to taste victory during a game of Unicorns Knockout Trophy high stakes.

MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve AdamsMCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve Adams

The boys from Nelson’s County knew only a triumph would do at home to Bedfordshire yesterday if they wanted to take their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals to the final weekend. And while they showed nerves of steel to triumph by six wickets at Manor Park, Brown also had to remain calm during the build-up to the must-win encounter after suffering an early-morning blow.

The 40-year-old said: “We knew we had to win to have any chance of progressing. Preparations were not ideal though. At 8am Michael Eccles called to say he was ill. So I spent a lot of time on the phone between then and about 10.30am trying to sort out a replacement.

“We were very close to getting Olly Stone (Northants) and there were a few permutations but we eventually named Aaron Watson (Norwich) and he did a very good job, not only to make himself available, but by how he bowled at the death to the dangerous (Andy) Reynoldson. While the preparation may not have been ideal the lads were brilliant and put in a fantastic performance right from the first over. We opened with spin and Harry Bush and Ben France kept it tight and bowled excellently. We had lots of dot balls right at the top which helped the pressure grow.”

Bush failed to take a wicket but his 10 overs went for just 29 runs. France gave away only 31 from the same period yet claimed four scalps while their captain and spin expert also put on a masterclass.

MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve AdamsMCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve Adams

Two-wicket Brown turned the screw to the tune of just 15 as Beds – propped up by Andy Reynoldson’s sensible 61 – struggled to 122.

Despite facing the threat of Yorkshire off-spinner James Middlebrook – who took eight first-class wickets earlier this term while Adil Rashid was away with England in the West Indies – the hosts cruised home with just four men being sent back to the pavilion.

The good news soon continued for Norfolk when they discovered Suffolk had been beaten by bottom-of-the-table Cambridgeshire to leave the East Anglian rivals tied on three points going into Sunday’s last round of matches.

“The lads are feeling very positive,” said Brown, who takes his troops to Cambs at the weekend while Suffolk visit group winners Herts.

MCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve AdamsMCCA Unicorns Knockout Trophy: Norfolk (bat) v Bedfordshire at Manor Park, Horsford. Photo: Steve Adams

“After the game we had a meeting and spoke about next week and the job not being done. The lads are really, really excited for it. If we play like we did yesterday we’ve got a very good chance of making another quarter-final.”

Scorecard

Norfolk v Bedfordshire, Manor Park

Bedfordshire won toss

Bedfordshire innings

C Thurston c Bush b France 14

L Thomas c Bush b France 0

M Good c Taylor b France 1

G Thurstance c Spelman b France 5

A Reynoldson not out 61

J Middlebrook b AM Watson 5

G Hofbauer lbw AM Watson 8

N Barden c&b Brown 1

E Wharton c Bush b Brown 0

J Higginbotham run out (Arthurton) 3

C Griggs b AA Watson 5

Extras 10w, 4lb, 5b 19

Total (44.4 overs) 122

Fall: 1-11, 2-20, 3-20, 4-33, 5-44, 6-63, 7-66, 8-66, 9-76

Bowling: Bush 10-0-29-0, France 10-1-31-4, AM Watson 10-2-30-2, Brown 10-3-15-2, AA Watson 2.4-0-6-1, G Park 2-1-2-0

Norfolk innings

J Spelman c Barden b Wharton 27

B France c Barden b Griggs 20

S Arthurton c Hofbauer b Griggs 32

H Bush c Thurston b Griggs 5

G Park not out 10

J Taylor not out 19

Extras 2nb, 9w 11

Total (4 wkts, 32.3 overs) 124

Fall: 1-42, 2-75, 3-88, 4-93

Bowling: Higginbotham 1-0-5-0, Middlebrook 7-2-14-0, Thurstance 2-0-20-0, Griggs 10-1--34-3, Wharton 7-0-26-1, Reynoldson 3-0-13-0, Thomas 2.3-0-12-0

Norfolk won by 6 wickets


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