Chris Brown took seven wickets to help Norfolk reach a decent position at the close of day one of their Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire at Horsford.

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The opening day of the 2012 Norfolk Festival of Cricket ended with the hosts having reached 62 for one in response to Staffordshire’s 278 for nine – Brown having taken seven for 83.

On an overcast morning Norfolk won the toss and elected to field, aiming to take early wickets while there was still cloud cover. But things did not go according to plan.

The visitors instead got off to a solid start through James Campbell and Kadeer Ali with a massive straight six from the former the early highlight.

Ali started to get into his stride with two elegant straight drives and after Staffordshire reached 61 for 0 at drinks, Brown was introduced.

The Norfolk spinner had an immediate effect forcing Ali to offer a chance which was dropped at mid-off. Another half-chance went begging shortly afterward and, after a frustrating first 25 overs for the home side, the two openers began to increase the run-rate.

Eventually though, Brown made the breakthrough as Campbell was well caught by Trevor Ward at mid-wicket for 44. Staffordshire finished the first session positively, reaching lunch on 138 for one – but Norfolk had at least taken a wicket and were hoping for more after the interval.

So it proved. The hosts went on to dominate the afternoon session from the moment Brown claimed the wicket of Tim Maxfield, helped by a smart catch from Stephen Gray behind the stumps.

Brown was now well into his stride as he trapped Attiq Chishti leg before for four to send Staffordshire stumbling to 168 for three.

Ali was still at the crease, though, and despite being restricted, he was still edging towards three figures.

However, looking to reach his century in style, Ali tried to hit Brown out of the ground and instead found Sam Arthurton in the deep. It was a top innings from the Staffordshire opener, but his reaction to the dismissal said it all.

Brown then claimed his fifth wicket as Ben McGuire fell for one and Norfolk were rampant. Staffs skipper Paul Goodwin looked to keep the score ticking with big shots, but the hosts were sharp in the field and Pete Wilshaw became Brown’s sixth victim before the 200 mark.

The approach from Staffordshire after this collapse appeared to be to be more positive, but in a crucial spell – the visitors were six wickets down with 20 minutes to go before tea – Norfolk struck.

Brown claimed his seventh wicket as Goodwin was caught by Spelman for 15. Opening bowler Michael Eccles then came back into the attack and picked up two wickets – both clean bowled – before tea.

Resuming the final session of the day on 240 for 9, Staffordshire showed some resistance – mainly in the form of Imran Arif’s unbeaten 26 – to play out their 90 overs and claim an extra batting point, finishing on 278 for 9.

It had still been a great effort from Norfolk though as, led by Brown, they fought back extremely well after a tough first session. They were now left to bat for a minimum of 17 overs at the end of the day.

Initially, it seemed as though Spelman and Carl Rogers would see out until the close. They made a slow but solid start to reach 15-0 after 10 overs. Rogers then hit two classy fours as Norfolk looked to finish on a high, but Spelman – who had been beaten a few times – fell at the hands of Gregg Willott for 11.

There was then a big appeal or two from Staffordshire, but Arthurton and Rogers helped the hosts reach 62 for 1 at the close.

Scoreboard

Norfolk v Staffordshire

Manor Park (Day 1 of 3)

Norfolk won toss

Staffordshire 1st innings

JRA Campbell c Ward b Brown 44

Kadeer Ali c Arthurton b Brown 97

T Maxfield c Gray b Brown 28

Attiq Chishti lbw b Brown 4

PJ Wilshaw c Caswell b Brown 13

BT McGuire c Caswell b Brown 1

PSJ Goodwin c Spelman b Brown 15

PA Bryne b Eccles 17

GR Willott b Eccles 5

Imran Arif not out 26

CJ Barker not out 11

Extras (b5 lb8 nb4) 17

Total (for 9 wkts, 90 overs) 278

Fall: 1-114, 2-160, 3-168, 4-187, 5-193, 6-198, 7-228, 8-230, 9-235

Bowling: Eccles 15-2-37-2, Warnes 5-0-40-0, Caswell 5-2-16-0, Brown 36-10-83-7, Walker 25-3-75-0, Bush 4-0-14-0.

Norfolk 1st innings

JM Spelman c McGuire by Willott 11

CJ Rogers not out 29

SS Arthurton not out 11

Extras (lb1 w2 nb8) 11

Total (for 1 wkt, 25 overs) 62

Fall: 1-42

To bat: TR Ward, H Bush, SK Gray, LW Caswell, GW Walker, C Brown, MW Warnes, MP Eccles.

Bowling: Imran Arif 7-2-17-0, Willott 9-5-17-1, Barker 5-3-7-0, Byrne 4-0-20-0.

Umpires: DM Koch & RJ Newham.

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