Norfolk beat Staffordshire in final encore for a season to remember
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk's oldest and newest batting stars delivered a memorable encore to their sublime Monday double act on Tuesday to end the Minor Counties season with another show of pure theatre to deliver a six wickets win over Staffordshire.
On Monday 45-year-old Trevor Ward, playing what he insists is his last game of cricket, teamed up with 16-year-old Callum Taylor, to treat the hardy fans who had made the long trek to Old Hill to a record-breaking fifth-wicket partnership of 172.
Ward's 123 was his tenth MCCA Championship ton for Norfolk while Taylor's 123-minute 133-ball 127 – including 16 fours and five sixes – made him the club's youngest-ever century-maker.
Their heroics, which allowed Norfolk to declare on 378-8 for a first innings deficit of just five runs, were followed by an unlikely six-wicket haul from Nathan Perry-Warnes to reduce Staffordshire to 200-8 overnight.
Ben France mopped up the last two wickets on Tuesday morning to dismiss the hosts for 227, leaving Norfolk a victory target of 233 from a minimum of 90.
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James Spelman gave them a solid start, reaching 55 despite the cheap losses of Perry-Warnes for one and France for five. Peter Lambert managed only five and when the fourth wicket fell on 118 another 115 runs were still needed for victory.
Cue the Ward and Taylor show!
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Surely it was stretching credulity too much to expect both to deliver again – yet that's exactly what they did, winning the match before tea while leaving a distinct impression that had the target been bigger their own new county record might have lasted no longer than a day.
Ward finished unbeaten on 82 from 102 balls in 159 minutes while Taylor, though showing early on that he is perfectly capable of playing with the circumspection a potentially precarious situation requires, reached his 76 not out off 67 balls in 77 minutes with 11 fours and two sixes.
Norfolk captain Chris Brown jokingly asked Ward as he came off having marked his final appearance with 205 runs whether he might want to reconsider his retirement plans.
'It was a great way for him to finish,' he said. 'He has been a superb professional throughout his time with us and this was just a great occasion for him.
'Callum's also played brilliantly, showing maturity far beyond his years. But I've been proud of them all. We've finished the season like champions.'
Minor Counties Championship
Staffordshire v Norfolk, Old Hill Cricket Club
Overnight: Staffs 383-7 (PJ Wilshaw 112, DP Brierley 76) & 200-8 (DP Brierley 33no, DT Cumming 1no, ND Perry-Warnes 6-62), Norfolk 378-8 dec (CJ Taylor 127, TR Ward 123, AT Thomson 4-86)
• Staffordshire 2nd Inns (cont)
DP Brierley not out 49
DT Cumming lbw France 9
GR Willott c Blake b France 1
Extras b1 lb5 w2 nb6 14
Total (47.4 overs) 227
Bowling: MP Eccles 5-0-45-1, MW Warnes 4-0-31-0, ND Perry-Warnes 13-1-62-6, RJ Findlay 4-0-30-0, C Brown 15-5-30-0, BJ France 6.4-1-23-3
• Norfolk 2nd Inns
JM Spelman c PSJ Goodwin b Thomson 55
ND Perry-Warnes lbw Willott 1
BJ France lbw Willott 8
TR Ward not out 82
PA Lambert c Thomson b MC Goodwin 5
CJ Taylor not out 76
Extras b1 lb1 nb 4 6
Total (4 wkts, 47.5 ovs) 233
FoW: 1-17, 2-43, 3-111, 4-118
Bowling: GR Willott 15.5-2-81-2, DT Cumming 5-0-38-0, AT Thomson 16-3-46-1, MC Goodwin 8-0-40-1, T Maxfield 2-0-14-0, Kadeer Ali 1-0-12-0
Norfolk won by six wickets
Norfolk 23 pts, Staffordshire 7