Ashley Watson takes six wickets as Norwich defeat Sprowston to lift Carter Cup
Norwich skipper Ashley Watson destroyed Sprowston's Carter Cup dream with a devastating spell of bowling in yesterday's final at Manor Park.
Left-arm spinner Watson claimed six for 16 as his side wrapped up a 90-run victory before tea in the 60-over showpiece.
Norwich had made painstaking progress in the morning after being put into bat, but a late flurry boosted their total to 177 for nine and that proved more than enough as Sprowston's young side were left floundering by Watson.
The Norwich captain, who also picked up the man-of-the-match award, said: 'I thought I'd get a few wickets out there today but I didn't think I'd get six – luckily my arm ball came off and I got my radar right.
'We had a pretty slow start but I was thinking that we had enough wickets left to have a dart at the end. We then lost some quick wickets, but fortunately my brother Aaron and Jason Blake saw us through to a reasonable total. We knew that with our bowlers we had a chance.'
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Watson is Norwich's vice-captain on Saturdays but has led the side in the Carter Cup this year in order to gain experience in the role – a plan that culminated with him lifting the county's most prestigious trophy: 'I had a bit of a sleepless night because I've not captained in a Carter Cup final before, but we managed to get through,' he said. 'It was a privilege to captain the side and I enjoyed it – apart from having a bottle of champagne sprayed in my face at the end so I couldn't see for five minutes!'
Sprowston, who have already tasted final success at Manor Park this season in the Norfolk Twenty20 Cup, won the toss yesterday and surprised some by putting Norwich into bat.
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Opening bowlers Andy Hanby and Simon Chipperfield kept a tight rein on openers Olly Higenbottam and Nathan Shearer, with Sprowston adding to the pressure by racing through the overs.
Australian Shearer was dropped at slip off Will Hampson on 18, but the spinner took matters into his own hands with the score on 50 in the 26th over as he dived forward to take the catch after Shearer looped the ball back to the bowler.
Higenbottam chased a wide delivery from Hampson and was caught behind and when Rob Purton took the key wicket of Ashley Watson with the score on 75, Sprowston were in charge.
Norwich went into lunch at 92 for three, hopeful that Chris Borrett would add some much needed impetus in the last 19 overs, but he fell soon after the break to Ryan Pearce.
Former Norwich City star Chris Sutton added 35 with Ben Wright before three quick wickets – including that of Sutton's son, Frankie – left Norwich in real trouble at 134 for seven.
Blake and Aaron Watson added a crucial 34, Blake hitting the only six of the innings in his 26no as Norwich posted a respectable total, with Purton claiming four for 44.
A fiery opening spell from Aaron Watson accounted for both openers and when Iain Murrell edged Borrett to slip, Sprowston were 11 for three.
Purton and Tim Hales steadied the ship but the former dangerously chose to play no shot against Ashley Watson and departed lbw for eight. John Leverett did not learn the lesson from that dismissal and was out in identical fashion next ball as the Sprowston effort began to unravel.
Hales hit some pleasing boundaries in his 26, but his dismissal left Sprowston on 50 for six – and Ashley Watson moved in for the kill.
He removed Sam Hales, Hampson and Hanby and although Chipperfield provided some typically forceful defiance by hitting Watson for six, the Norwich skipper had his revenge next ball, bowling his opposite number as Sprowston were all out for 87.
Chipperfield said: 'They bowled, batted and fielded better than us so they deserved to win.
'Ashley is a quality bowler, and he proved to be the real difference between the sides. It was still a good experience for our younger players and hopefully they will learn from this and become better cricketers.'