Norfolk aim to bounce back from ‘freak’ batting collapse

Swardeston bowler Michael Eccles has been called into Norfolk's team for the Unicorns Trophy tie in Bedfordshire. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Swardeston bowler Michael Eccles has been called into Norfolk's team for the Unicorns Trophy tie in Bedfordshire. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Saturday, May 3, 2014
6:30 AM

Norfolk will aim to make a fresh start to their one-day season when they travel to Bedfordshire tomorrow.

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Last Sunday Norfolk were bowled out for just 72 in their first match of this year’s Unicorns Knockout Trophy, at their Manor Park home in Horsford.

They had put Cambridgeshire into bat and were looking good after bowling the visitors out for 166, with James Spelman taking three wickets for 20 runs.

Norfolk then suffered what captain Chris Brown described as a ‘freak’ batting collapse to lose by 95 runs.

“With the bowling and fielding at the halfway point, everyone was really pleased to restrict them to 166 and to then be on 29-0 after six overs things were looking good,” Brown reflected.

“We then had a mad couple of hours and capitulated to be bowled out for 70-odd, and we’ve got to put that right on Sunday.”

The first opportunity to start proving that batting performance was a ‘freak’ incident comes at Bedfordshire, when Norfolk travel to Dunstable for their second match in group two of the Unicorns Trophy.

It will be the first match of the season for Beds, and their first against Norfolk since 2012. Last season Beds were in a different Unicorns Trophy group to Norfolk.

Beds lost all four of their matches to finish bottom of that group and didn’t enjoy much more success in their three-day matches either, drawing four and losing two of their matches to finish second from bottom in the Minor Counties Eastern Division table.

Norfolk and Beds last met on the final day of the Minor Counties season in 2012, when they drew a three-day match at Luton.

That match saw Norfolk decide to bat first and declare on 350 for nine, with Sam Arthurton leading the way with 158 runs from 279 balls.

Kieran Bunting then took four for 61 with the ball to help bowl Beds out for 333 and a narrow lead. Norfolk then put on 292 from 78 overs, Arthurton again top scoring, with 92, and declared.

But the match finished with Beds just seven runs short of victory, on 303 for eight, to end in an exciting draw.

Brown missed that match due to coaching duty with the ICC Americas but is looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge, saying: “The last time I played against them was in a Championship game when they needed two to win, nine down, and we managed to win in the last over, that was during the festival (at Manor Park in 2011).

“I think their side has changed a fair bit since then and they’ll be competitive I’m sure but to be honest, all I’m focused on is what we have got to do.

“We’ve got to focus on nailing the basics, do as well as we can to improve the batting performance from last week both technically and mentally, and I’m sure we will improve from last Sunday.”

Norfolk’s next Unicorns Trophy match is in two weeks, on Sunday, May 18, when Suffolk travel to Manor Park.

Their MCCA Championship season is due to start on Sunday, June 8, away to Northumberland and gets into full flow in Harpenden on Sunday, July 6, when they face Hertfordshire.

Norfolk: James Spelman, Ben France, Sam Arthurton, Garry Park, Harry Bush, Peter Lambert, Callum Taylor, Stephen Gray (WK), Chris Brown (C), Kieran Bunting, Michael Eccles.

Are you attending a local cricket match this weekend? Send photos, scores and reports to norfolksport@archant.co.uk

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