Brothers ready for baptism - Brown

Brothers Matthew and Michael Warnes have been given a big vote of confidence as they prepare to make a little slice of Norfolk cricket history.

The Horsford pair are set to make their Minor Counties Championship debuts on the same day when the three-day match against Northumberland gets under way at Jesmond tomorrow (11am).

They will become the first brothers to appear in the same championship match for Norfolk for 25 years, since Peter and David Thomas played together against Cambridgeshire at Lakenham in 1986.

Batsman Matthew, 25, has taken the long and winding road to his first senior outing, having been denied his debut in 2007 when he was named in the eleven to face Cambs at March, but all three days of the game were washed out.

Opening bowler Michael, 21, featured in Norfolk's final two MCCA Knockout Trophy matches against Suffolk and Lincolnshire this season after moving from Cromer and into East Anglian Premier League cricket.

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Norfolk player-coach Chris Brown, who captains the brothers at club level, said: 'Matthew was involved in the Norfolk set-up quite a long time ago, as far back as 2004.

'He performed well at Cromer and graduated into the East Anglian Premier League with Horsford. By his own admission, it's taken him a little while to produce the goods on a regular basis but he has played beautifully this season. He's scored a hundred against Great Witchingham and a couple of 50s and deserves his opportunity.

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'His brother, Michael, performed well at Cromer last season and has made the transition into the EAPL and has started well this season. They are both young lads with something to prove.'

Brothers have played for Norfolk in the past 25 years, among them Rodney and Steward Bunting, and Aaron and Ashley Watson, but not in the same championship match.

The Norfolk side for their opening Eastern Division fixture at Jesmond shows four changes from the one-day defeat by Lincolnshire with Matthew Warnes, opener Carl Rogers, all-rounder Ashley Watson and paceman Michael Eccles replacing the unavailable Sam Arthurton and Paul Bradshaw, plus Luke Caswell and Tom Collishaw.

Arthurton, who made 133 not out against Lincs, and Harry Bush are not available because of duty with Essex II and Leeds/Bradford MCCU, respectively.

Said Brown: 'Ashley was unavailable all last year because of RAF commitments, but he scored a good hundred for Norwich last week and he will strengthen the lower middle-order, as well as providing another spin option – and he is also a very good fielder.

'We feel the three-day competition suits Michael Eccles better because he can bowl longer spells with more attacking fields and he will be raring to go when he takes the new ball on Sunday morning, or Sunday evening.'

The 40-year-old Rogers, meanwhile, is preparing for his 22nd consecutive summer of Minor Counties cricket after relinquishing the captaincy to George Walker.

Brown is confident Norfolk can put their poor one-day form behind them after losing both warm-up games and all four Trophy matches.

He said: 'We have been poor in the one-day competition. We never really got all three disciplines right in the same game.

'We don't forget that – we have talked about the areas where we need to improve – but three-day cricket is totally different. We are talking about nine sessions rather than two 50-over sessions.

'We can also say that in our last championship fixture at the end of last season, we beat Staffordshire very convincingly and we will be looking to carry on where we left off.'

Northumberland: M A P Dale, D G Shurben, G M Scott, R P Waite, A D Cragg, M J Symington (capt), B Maxted (wicket-keeper), C J Hooker, D J Rutherford, M A Craigs, S J Boyd.

Norfolk: J M Spelman, C J Rogers, P A Lambert, T R Ward, S K Gray (wicket-keeper), M R Warnes, A M Watson, G W Walker (capt), C Brown, M W Warnes, M P Eccles.

Norfolk's Minor Counties Championship fixtures: June 12-14: Northumberland (Jesmond). July 10-12: Herts (Hertford). July 24-26: Cumberland (Manor Park). July 31-Aug 2: Beds (Manor Park). Aug 7-9: Suffolk (Manor Park). Aug 21-23: Bucks (Slough). Sep 4-7: Championship final (Eastern Division winners at home).

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