Norfolk have left themselves with an uphill battle in their three-day match at Hertfordshire – but are still feeling hopeful.

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A disappointing day with the bat saw Norfolk bowled out for 197 at Harpenden, as they got their Unicorns Minor Counties Championship season up and running today after a heavily rain affected draw at Northumberland in their first match.

Norfolk bowled 32 overs at the hosts before the close of play to leave Herts on 82-2 overnight.

Captain Chris Brown watched the action from the sidelines as he is currently out injured with a calf problem but wasn’t feeling too downhearted.

“I think potentially we were 50 light with the bat but Herts bowled very well throughout the day,” Brown said.

“I thought James Spelman (48 from 113 balls) played nicely, Garry Park (48 from 174) as well, and so did Sam Groves (23 from 63) coming in at eight.

“But you look at the scorecard and that tells the story. The pitch is quite dry and there have been a few balls which have kept low, so the last innings is going to be difficult.

“In the morning the bowlers have got to start hitting the right areas and ensure we try to bowl them out for something near our score, or if not, no more than 40 or 50 ahead.”

Openers Peter Lambert and James Spelman put on 36 for the opening wicket before Lambert went for 18, bringing stand-in captain Park to the crease.

Spelman and Park got Norfolk’s total moving in the right direction with a partnership of 63 but things soon started to unravel when Spelman fell for 48, leaving Norfolk on 99-2.

Ben France added nine before Herts bowler Nick Lamb took two quick wickets, with debutant Jordan Taylor out for a duck, leaving Norfolk at 118-4.

Ashley Watson could only add three but Park and Luke Caswell managed to stabilise matters with a partnership of 22, before Lamb returned to take his third wicket, and the crucial wicket, of Park.

The skipper fell for 48 and Caswell soon followed for six, with Ben Frazer picking up his third wicket for Herts, to leave Norfolk on 155-7.

Groves and Aaron Watson nudged the score along with a partnership of 26, with Watson falling for nine shortly before tea, with the score at 118-8.

Michael Eccles went for a duck shortly after the break as the tail struggled to provide some sting, with Kieren Bunting adding nine in a partnership of 14 with Groves.

Frazer then struck for his fourth wicket to see Groves fall for a helpful 23 and bowl Norfolk out for 197 in 86 overs.

Norfolk had 36 overs to try and make a dent in the home side’s hopes, with Ashley Watson and France taking a wicket apiece for day one to close with Herts on 82-2.

Asked whether he still felt his team-mates could turn the match back in their favour, Brown replied: “Absolutely, 100 per cent. We fought back well in the session following drinks. Ben France and Ash Watson were bowling quite tight and got a good couple of wickets.

“We need to do that in the first session in the morning as well and then we’ve got a big game of cricket. We finished with them on 82 tonight, so the session in the morning is going to be really important.”

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