Late wickets keep Norfolk in the hunt

JONATHAN REDHEAD A flurry of late wickets kept Norfolk in the hunt despite a largely disappointing first day of their Minor Counties Championship clash with Buckinghamshire at Manor Park yesterday.

JONATHAN REDHEAD

A flurry of late wickets kept Norfolk in the hunt despite a largely disappointing first day of their Minor Counties Championship clash with Buckinghamshire at Manor Park yesterday.

After winning the toss and electing to bat, the home side slumped to eight for three inside three overs and eventually 147 all out, thanks mainly some great bowling from Paul Sawyer - and some ordinary batting.

In reply, the visitors appeared to be cruising at 113 for one, but Chris Brown and then skipper Paul Bradshaw, with two wickets in two balls, struck to restrict Bucks to 129 for four at the close of play.

Early wickets this morning and a small deficit would leave Bradshaw's side still in with a chance of victory, as the captain readily admitted.

"If we can take two or three early on then that will be the plan," he said. "If not then they can only bat 90 overs so from both points we need to keep the runs down as well as take the wickets and try to make that first innings lead as small as possible.

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"You look at the quality in our top order and you think there's no way we can get that small a score again.

"If things went our way anything could happen and e could look to bowl them out in the last day.

"It was a poor performance by us in all honesty in the first two sessions. We had a good chat at tea and in the last session it was much better."

Bradshaw maintained the decision to bat was also the correct one.

"It certainly didn't go to plan but they would have batted as well," he said. "I don't think there's any doubt that was the right decision, just everything that seamed or swung we seemed to nick early on and that makes a big difference.

"They played and missed where we nicked it. Although we had a few good partnerships we needed another hundred to make it competitive really."

Earlier, opener Carl Rogers' knock of 51 kept Norfolk afloat after a dreadful start.

Left arm opening bowler Sawyer had Carl Amos caught at first slip for a single in his first over and then removed James Spelman and Trevor Ward, fresh from a hundred in his last Norfolk game, for ducks in his second over.

But Chris Borrett helped steady the ship with Rogers as the pair put on 62, before the former departed lbw for 28. Horsford's Jaik Mickleburgh then notched 22 in a 40-run partnership with the opener until he was bowled off his bat by off-spinner Jonathan Newell just before lunch.

Rogers was caught at short leg immediately after the interval as Sawyer cleaned up with five for 50, while Newell took four for 27 as the hosts collapsed.

The Bucks reply got off to a solid start, with Warren Miller and former Surrey player and England tourist Keith Medlycott. They put on 69 before Miller edged behind to Luke Newton off the bowling of Michael Eccles for 38.

Medlycott was joined by Jason Harrison and the pair put on 44 before the Norfolk fightback began, with half an hour of the day remaining.

Off-spinner Brown trapped Medlycott leg before for 43 as he looked like making a big score, and the following over, Bradshaw removed Harrison lbw and then bowled Bucks skipper Paul Atkins first ball.

Sawyer and Tom Brooks made it through to the close without further damage and they will be looking to push on this morning to create a healthy first innings lead.