Another top-four finish is the minimum Unicorns Championship target for Norfolk as season steps up a gear

James Spelman returns to open the batting for Norfolk in the Unicorns Championship. Picture: TIM FER

James Spelman returns to open the batting for Norfolk in the Unicorns Championship. Picture: TIM FERLEY - Credit: Tim Ferley

The season moves up a gear for Norfolk tomorrow with a trip to Hertfordshire to begin the three-day season.

Chris Brown's team finished fourth in the Unicorns Minor Counties Championship last season and are hoping to continue their progression.

'We finished fourth last year and played some good cricket so we want to try and improve on that position,' said the skipper, now in his 17th season as a Norfolk player.

'To win the title is the ultimate aim at the outset of every season, so we'll try to win it but try to finish in the top four is the target.

'You've got to win three or four games to have a chance of winning it. Staffordshire and Lincolnshire were pushed all the way last season and it went down to the wire, so they are going to be competitive again but we'll just concentrate on our strengths and playing to the best of our abilities.'

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The three-day campaign starts with Norfolk in good spirits from the start of their one-day exploits. Captained by Ashley Watson for the first time, the county squad have reached the quarter-finals of the Unicorns Knockout Trophy for the fourth year in a row.

'The boys have been playing well, there's been an excellent environment in those four games in getting to the quarter-finals,' Brown continued.

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'After the heavy defeat to Lincolnshire we spoke to the lads and told them you don't become bad players overnight and then they put in a brilliant display against Cumberland.

'So we're on a bit of a high but this is a different format, the longer format, but hopefully those skills will be transferable to the three-day game.'

Norfolk are without six players through injury or unavailability but welcome back opener James Spelman and all-rounder Ben France, who were unavailable for the Trophy games.

Hertfordshire finished sixth in the Championship last year, with one fewer win than Norfolk, but have topped group four of the Trophy with three wins from four to set up a home clash with Cheshire in the quarter-finals.

Norfolk: James Spelman, Sam Arthurton, Jason Reynolds, Rob Taylor, Ben France, Matt Plater, Ashley Watson, Chris Brown (C), Brett Stolworthy, Sam Groves (GK), Adam Todd

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