Frustration for Norfolk after Minor Counties Championship draw with Staffordshire

Norfolk were forced to settle for a draw in their Minor Counties Championship match against Staffordshire after the visitors set them an impossible target in the final session at Manor Park.

Resuming on 153-5, Staffordshire went on to make 383-8 before the declaration came a lot later than many had hoped.

This meant Norfolk had little chance of chasing the required 332 to win and with the hosts on 101-1 in the final hour, it was agreed to end the match as a draw.

It could have been very different for Norfolk of course.

They went into the final day as slight favourites to force a victory, but they found Attiq Chishti and Paul Goodwin in determined mood.

The battle between Norfolk spinner Chris Brown and Chishti was a particularly fascinating one.

There was a massive LBW appeal early on and Brown's frustration was clear when the next ball was chipped straight past him for four.

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Although the breakthrough didn't come for Norfolk, it was an intriguing spell of cricket and probably the best of day three.

Runs weren't exactly flowing for Staffordshire, but for the rest of the morning session they went about their business well.

As they upped the rate slightly before lunch – Chishti hit George Walker for successive boundaries – the score past 200 and the lead, which was 101 at the start of the day, was creeping up.

Before the lunch interval, there was time for Chishti to go to his 100, with a mis-field on the boundary seeing him to three figures. Norfolk had stuck to their guns, but it was a frustrating time for them.

With the partnership for the sixth wicket passing 100, Staffordshire made it to lunch on 253-3 with a lead of 203.

It was now a case of waiting to see when they would declare and what score they would set Norfolk.

Their intent was perhaps clear in the first five overs after lunch when only seven runs were scored.

With the Norfolk players starting to question their opponents' approach, Chishti launched a six and Goodwin past 50, but they were certainly in no rush to make a game of it.

The new ball finally brought some success for Norfolk when the returning Michael Eccles struck to dismiss Goodwin for 58.

Imran Arif was the new man and he was more positive, but as the lead approached 300, the chances of a positive result became less and less likely.

With the field spread out to the maximum, Michael Warnes had Arif caught at long on for 41 and then followed a bizarre spell of play when Chishti was reverse sweeping Brown – who had a completely off-side field – on his way to 150.

Having batted all day to this point, Chishti then fell for 158 with Harry Bush taking the catch off the bowling of Brown.

The declaration soon followed meaning Norfolk needed 332 to win in a minimum of 36 overs.

Despite James Spelman and Carl Rogers getting Norfolk off to a positive start – reaching 21-0 at tea – it was an impossible run chase for the hosts. After two and a half days of fantastic cricket in the sunshine, it was a disappointing end.

By the end of the match, Spelman – who passed 2000 Championship runs for Norfolk during his innings of 40 not out – and Sam Arthurton (32 not out) were helping themselves to runs, reaching 101-1 when the game was declared a draw, much to the home side's frustration.

Speaking afterwards, Norfolk captain George Walker said: 'Obviously we were looking to get some early wickets in the morning, but they played well and it didn't happen.

'We kept the run rate down though which was the crucial thing. It gave us a chance if quick wickets were to come.

'They were sensible about their approach and we had to stick at it, not knowing if the declaration was round the corner.

'Maybe if they had declared around the 280, 290 mark it would have made a good game of it.'


Norfolk v Staffordshire, day 3

Manor Park

Overnight: Staffs 153-5 (Christi 46*) Norfolk 330.

• Staffordshire 2nd innings

JRA Campbell lbw b Spelman 31

Kadeer Ali b Eccles 0

T Maxfield c Gray b Spelman 41

Attiq Chrishti c Bush b Brown 158

PJ Wilshaw c Arthurton b Brown 6

BT McGuire run out (Spelman) 20

PSJ Goodwin c Spelman b Brown 58

PA Byrne not out 5

Imran Arif c Caswell b Warnes 41

Extras (b6 lb6 w7 nb4) 23

Total (8 wkts, 104.3 overs) 383

Fall: 1-5 2-67 3-80 4-97 5-143; 6-290; 7-351; 8-383.

Bowling: Eccles 23-5-78-2, Warners16-1-67-1, Brown 33.3-5-94-2, Walker 5-0-29-0; Bush 7-0-28-0, Spelman 19-4-60-2, Rogers 1-0-15-0.

• Norfolk 2nd innings

JM Spelman not out 40

CJ Rogers b Byrne 23

SS Arthurton not out 32

Extras (b1 lb3 nb2) 6

Total (1 wkt, 30 overs) 101

Fall: 1-42

Bowling: Arif 4-0-20-0, Willott 6-1-17-0, Barker 2-0-12-0, Byrne 13-4-27-1, Wilshaw 5-1-21-0.