Captain Brown shakes off fever to lead Norfolk to victory
- Credit: Archant 2013
Norfolk captain Chris Brown shook off a fever which gave him a sleepless night before his team's crucial MCCA Trophy battle with Lincoln at Manor Park – and went on to play a crucial part with bat and ball to help secure a nail-biting victory.
Having lost by five runs to Shropshire in a high-scoring encounter on Bank Holiday Monday, Norfolk this time won by seven in a game where boundaries were almost as rare as wickets.
When Norfolk were restricted to 165 for nine in their 50 overs it appeared a difficult total to defend.But they did so with some outstanding bowling performances across the board, Brown being the meanest of all with his ten overs of spin allowing a miserly 18 runs.
Another of Norfolk's evergreens, Paul Bradshaw conceded just 20 while taking two wickets – including the vital second over dismissal of Don Birch.
Michael Eccles marked his return to the Norfolk fold by claiming the scalp of the other opener, Morgan, for a fourth-over duck as he and Bradshaw set the tone with a blistering double barrelled opening 12 overs.
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He also went for less than three an over, as did Luke Caswell, who was introduced at a critical mid innings stage when Lincs were looking to up the scoring rate after a ship-steadying third-wicket partnership of 65 between Matt Lineker (35) and Conrad Louth (who went on to a 126-ball 53) – and took one for 26 from ten overs, the one being Lineker, who had scored 107 not out and 97 in his first two MCCA innings of the season.
And then there was Ben France, who made amends for his first over duck by bagging three wickets at the business end of the proceedings, including the key scalp of Louth.
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In particular he rose to the challenge of bowling the final over, when Lincs needed 11 to win but were effectively scuppered by three successive dot balls.
Such consistency of line and purpose – coupled with some superb catches, by Sam Arthurton and Caswell in particular, meant that Lincolnshire, even when solidly building from their early set-backs, were never able to quite find the couple of big overs they needed and which, Brown admitted, Norfolk always knew could turn the game the visitors' way.
Norfolk's innings was punctuated by two mini collapses. Having lost France immediately, leg before to Lincolnshire's 16-year-old spinner Matthew Carter, James Spelman (33) and Sam Arthurton (25) put on 65 for the second wicket, only for Norfolk to lose three wickets in five balls, including Harry Bush for a duck, to find themselves 66-4 in the 20th over.
Steven Gray and Trevor Ward (10) then put on 31 before another mini slump of three wickets in nine balls reduced Norfolk to 100-7, at which point Brown (24) and Gray (34) put on 36 for the eighth wicket before Bradshaw and Eccles stayed together for the final few overs in a short but crucial unbeaten tenth wicket stand of 18.
Brown revealed he nearly missed the game having alerted the club in the morning that he was 'touch and go' after being sick all night.
'As it turns out I'm glad I did,' he said. 'We're now right back on track to where we need to be. It will be the same team against Suffolk next week and if we play as well as we did today while cutting out some of the soft dismissals I think we can go there and win.'
Manor Park: Norfolk won toss
JM Spelman c Lineker b Houston 33
BJ France lbw b Carter 0
SS Arthurton c Shepherd b Carter 25
TR Ward c Birch b Lineker 10
H Bush c Burford b Houston 0
SK Gray c Carter b Bansal 34
PA Lambert b Shepherd 1
LW Caswell lbw b Shepherd 0
C Brown b Lineker 24
PJ Bradshaw not out 10
MP Eccles not out 10
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 165
Fall: 1, 66, 66, 66, 97,100,100, 136, 147,
Bowling: Carter 10-2-28-2, Bramley 7-2-22-0, Shepherd 10-1-25-2, Houston 9-3-27-2, Bansal 5-0-23-1, Lineker 9-1-28-2
DJ Birch c Gray b Bradshaw 2
JH Morgan c France b Eccles 0
M Lineker c Gray b Caswell 35
CJ Louth st Gray b France 53
PG Cook c Caswell b Bradshaw 18
KS Bansal c Arthurton b France 4
LG Bramley c Arthurton b France 12
OE Burford not out 3
BW Houston not out 14
Total (for 7 wkts, 50 overs) 158
Fall: 2, 4, 69, 107, 117, 124, 150
Bowling: Bradshaw 10-1-20-2, Eccles 9-2-25-1, Brown 10-3-18-0, Bush 2-0-17-0, Caswell 10-0-26-1, France 9-0-44-3
Norfolk win by 7 runs