Chris Brown backs Norfolk debutant Olly Stone for a big future

Norfolk player-coach Chris Brown has warned against expecting too much from 17-year-old debutant Olly Stone in the Minor Counties Championship match against Bedfordshire which starts at Manor Park tomorrow.

Stone, who is a member of the Northamptonshire Academy and made his Steelbacks debut in the Friends Life Twenty20 against Durham recently, comes into the Norfolk side as Michael Eccles is still unavailable with a broken finger.

Brown, who has worked closely with Stone on the Emerging Players programme, said he was delighted to have the Vauxhall Mallards teenager in the team: 'He's got a strong physique with a good action and he bowls at quite a brisk pace,' he said. 'He's a decent fielder and he will be quite useful with the bat in the lower order so we're looking forward to seeing how he does.

'But the key point is that he is still only 17. A window of opportunity has presented itself in the side and he fits the bill for us.'

Brown believes that there will be further opportunities for Stone in the Northants first team, despite an inauspicious debut when he did not bowl and was dismissed first ball by Paul Collingwood to complete the former England all-rounder's hat-trick: 'I'm sure he has a good future in the game,' said Brown. 'He's young and there's a long way to go, but if he keeps doing the right things I'm sure he'll progress.'

Stone takes the place of Aaron Watson and is one of three changes to the Norfolk side which almost conjured an unlikely win against Cumberland earlier this week, having been on the back foot for the majority of the match. Harry Bush is on university duty, while Sam Arthurton is due to play for Essex's second XI at Taunton on Tuesday. Their absences mean a return to the side for Swardeston's Peter Lambert and Horsford's Matthew Warnes.

Brown believes Norfolk can take plenty of positives from their draw with Cumberland, after reducing the visitors to 159 for eight in their pursuit of a victory target of 177: 'We showed a bit of character after having our backs against the wall for most of the game,' said Brown. 'We turned it around and produced a very good performance and it's given everybody a lift.

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'Now we've got to carry that momentum into the next game.'

Bedfordshire are the only side below Norfolk in the Eastern Division table, and Brown said: 'If we can do what we did in the last couple of sessions against Cumberland I think we can come out on top. But even though Bedfordshire are bottom they have some useful players and they will be no pushovers.'

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