Norfolk’s bowlers will face the younger brother of England Test batsman Joe Root when they take on Suffolk tomorrow.

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Billy Root scored 116 as Suffolk won by four wickets at home against Bedfordshire last Sunday, to make it three wins from three in group two of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy.

The 21-year-old, who shared a third-wicket partnership of 125 with former Essex all-rounder Michael Comber, is part of Suffolk’s Unicorns Trophy squad as he plays for Sheffield Collegiate alongside the county’s player-coach Simon Guy.

Norfolk skipper Chris Brown knows the game is a ‘must-win’ for his side if they are to progress in the one-day competition but admits the younger Root brother is something of an unknown prospect for him.

“I know he scored 100 in their last game but I’ve never played against him,” Brown said. “He’s obviously a useful player as his performance showed last week.

“But we don’t focus too much on opposition individuals, we just look to focus on ourselves.”

Norfolk kick-started their one-day season a fortnight ago, winning by 29 runs at Bedfordshire.

They had got off to a frustrating start to their Unicorns Trophy campaign when they were dismissed for just 72 in a comprehensive home defeat to Cambridge.

Skipper Chris Brown had demanded a positive response, and he got his wish, Norfolk scoring a solid 262-5 in their 50 overs before restricting Beds to 232-9 at Dunstable.

An opening partnership of 69 between James Spelman (30) and Ben France (31) got Norfolk off to a decent start but a third-wicket stand of 145 between Sam Arthurton (79) and Garry Park (77) put Norfolk in control.

“We had a long chat after the victory at Bedfordshire,” Brown said. “About the areas we had wanted to improve on from Cambridgeshire, which we did, and we were all looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Last season Norfolk and Suffolk also met in the group stages of the Unicorns Trophy, with Norfolk winning by 12 runs at Bury St Edmunds.

Norfolk won the toss and elected to bat that day, with Harry Bush top scoring with 54 as Norfolk scored 247-8 in their 50 overs.

Suffolk then looked in sight of reaching their target as the match headed for a tense finish but Paul Bradshaw cleared up the Suffolk tail with three late wicket to finish with figures of 5-66.

When asked if he was feeling confident about tomorrow’s match, Brown continued: “Absolutely. We played some good cricket against Bedfordshire in the last round and we had a very good game against Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds last year, when (Brandon-born England Lions and Essex fast bowler) Tymal Mills played, and we managed to come out on top.”

The only change to the Norfolk team from the win at Beds sees Ashley Watson replace Kieran Bunting, who would not have been fully fit.

Suffolk have already secured promotion for the knockout stages but know that victory will secure home advantage for them in their quarter-final tie.

Suffolk player-coach Simon Guy said: “The fact that it’s a local derby, against Norfolk, will give this weekend extra spice.

“I think the fact that we have match-winners throughout the team, including down the order, is a big difference for us this season.

“In fact, it’s a big headache for the management team, deciding on which players to leave out, because basically we have a strong team-and-a-half at our disposal. Suffolk perhaps hasn’t had that luxury in past years.”

Norfolk return to Unicorns Trophy action next Sunday, when they travel to Hertfordshire, with their MCCA Championship three-day season due to get under way at Northumberland on Sunday, June 8.

Would you like to see your cricket team featured? Send reports and photos to norfolksport@archant.co.uk

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