Narrow win for Norfolk

Norfolk withstood a spirited comeback from Cumberland to record a much needed Minor Counties Championship victory at Kendall.

Norfolk withstood a spirited comeback from Cumberland to record a much needed Minor Counties Championship victory at Kendall yesterday.

Paul Bradshaw's side desperately needed to make up some ground on their rivals after seeing their opening fixture against Cambridgeshire being abandoned without a ball being bowled, and they did just that by picking up a bumper 20-point haul in their second fixture.

But it was a really close run thing, with Norfolk eventually edging home by just nine runs after setting the hosts a target of 242 runs from a minimum of 58 overs.

A last wicket stand of 71 took a never-say-die Cumberland outfit to within touching distance of an unlikely win but Bradshaw ensured it would be a happy journey home when he accepted a caught and bowled chance to get rid of stubborn tail-ender Matthew Gorley when he was just four short of his half century.

Norfolk had batted well to engineer a position when they could make an early declaration. Resuming on 112 for 3 in their second innings, a lead of just 86, they took the game to their opponents, with an excellent fourth wicket stand between Trevor Ward and Chris Borrett putting them in command.

Ward made 67 and Borrett 40 before youngster Jaik Mickleburgh kept up the good work, marking his debut with a useful 31 before being trapped leg before by Gorley.

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By then Norfolk had passed the 250 mark and it wasn't long before Bradshaw announced the declaration, with his team on 267 for seven.

Cumberland needed to score at a rate of just over four an over to clinch victory, and it looked as though that task would prove well beyond them as wickets tumbled at regular intervals. They were soon 8 for 2, with Michael Eccles and Ian Slegg both hitting the stumps, and then crashed from 37 for 2 to 43 for 6 with Bradshaw and Chris Brown taking two wickets apiece.

At that point it looked as though Norfolk would stroll to victory but the seventh wicket pair of Alex Roberts and Michael Raikes had other ideas. They knuckled down to the task in hand and both scored half centuries as they recorded a stand of 117 to put their opponents back under pressure.

A fascinating game took another twist when Slegg dismissed both batsman in quick succession, with Brown then chipping in with his seventh wicket of the match to leave Cumberland starring defeat in the face at 161 for 9.

To their credit the 10th wicket pair of Gorley and Marcus Sharp refused to accept they were beaten, and with six overs remaining they had moved to within nine runs of their target. It was getting more than a little tense by then, but fortunately for Norfolk their skipper made the final breakthrough to set his team up nicely for the Horsford Festival, which gets under way with a game against Northumberland on Sunday, July 22.