Late wickets ensure a frustrating first day for Norfolk ends on a bright note

Ben France prepares to deliver during an impressive stint that brought him three wickets on the open

Ben France prepares to deliver during an impressive stint that brought him three wickets on the opening day of the 2017 Norfolk Festival of Cricket. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

Norfolk grabbed four late wickets to ensure a frustrating first day of the annual Manor Park Festival ended on a high note.

After getting all the way up to 192 for the loss of just one wicket, visitors Suffolk then lost four in an extended final session to finish on 217-5.

Only 67 overs were possible after a heavy early afternoon downpour had cut the day in half, meaning a 10.30am start this morning as Norfolk attempt to get themselves right back into the game.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first divisional leaders Suffolk made an excellent start, with Martyn Cull and former Horsford and Norfolk player Jaik Mickleburgh putting on 69 for the first wicket.

Norfolk's only success before lunch came when Adam Todd had Mickleburgh caught behind by Sam Groves for 28, with Alex Oxley keeping Cullum company until the break as the score reached 117.

Play was then interrupted by heavy rain, with a lengthy delay following to allow the outfield to dry out.

Suffolk maintained their impressive progress when the match finally resumed, with Cull and Oxley taking their partnership up to 123 before the latter became the first of Ben France's three victims.

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He was caught behind for 96 to just miss out on a second ton of the weekend following his unbeaten 123 for Copdock and Ipswichian on Saturday.

Oxley and Michael Comber took the score past 200 but then both went in quick succession to give the hosts a real foothold in the match. Comber was bowled by Chris Brown for 10 and then Oxley was trapped lbw by France for 53 - his first Minor Counties half century - to leave Suffolk on 209-4.

France bowled wicketkeeper Adam Mansfield for two to complete an exciting conclusion to a day that had looked like being one to forget.

Norfolk went into the match in fifth position in the East Division, but with a game in hand on all teams above them and only 14 points adrift of Suffolk. Brown's men opened their campaign with a rain affected draw at Hertfordshire but then coasted to a 185-run win in Buckinghamshire to ensure they went into the opening day of the annual festival in good spirits.

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