Norfolk begin Unicorns Knockout Trophy against Cambridgeshire

Action from minor counties cricket at Wisbech in June 2013, with Cambridge v Norfolk - Norfolk batsm

Action from minor counties cricket at Wisbech in June 2013, with Cambridge v Norfolk - Norfolk batsman Harry Bush survives a strong appeal. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Norfolk get their competitive season up and running tomorrow when they take on Cambridgeshire in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy at Horsford.

Last season both teams reached the quarter-finals of the competition, where Norfolk were beaten by 95 runs at Northumberland and Cambs lost by one wicket at Hertfordshire.

Norfolk captain Chris Brown is hoping his team can go further in the competition this year.

'We need to be up to speed straight away,' Brown said. 'We have been poor as a one-day force since 2009 but we were better from the outset last season and did quite well to get to the quarter-finals, so we want to go one better.'

Norfolk's 2014 campaign started on a high note in a pre-season friendly against an Essex second XI a fortnight ago, with Norfolk winning by 43 runs at Bishop's Stortford.

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Garry Park top scored with 54 runs from 93 balls as Norfolk chose to bat first and set a total of 197 for nine from their 50 overs.

Kieran Bunting then took four wickets for 55 runs as Essex were bowled out for 154 in 36 overs.

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Tomorrow's opponents, Cambs, won the MCCA (Minor Counties Cricket Association) Eastern Division last season after winning five of their six matches, 24 points better off than Norfolk, who finished fourth.

They were defeated in the MCCA Championship final though, losing by 129 runs to Western Division champions Cheshire, but look likely to provide Norfolk a tough one-day encounter tomorrow.

'We want to get off to a positive start,' Brown continued. 'We had some good training sessions over the winter and did well against Essex. I thought the guys shaped up well with bat and ball so it's about putting that into action once the season gets going.

'Particularly Kieran Bunting I thought bowled quite nicely to take a few wickets and Ash Watson as well in his first game back after being away with the RAF, so there were a few positives for us to take.'

Last season Norfolk crossed the border to Wisbech in June and lost to Cambs in a three-day Championship game by eight wickets.

Harry Bush hit 148 runs from 173 balls as Norfolk set a first innings total of 328 and the hosts replied with 308 from their first innings.

Four wickets from skipper Paul McMahon helped Cambs bowl the visitors out for just 123 in the second innings though and a 119-run stand from Darren Bicknell (47) and Chris Thompson (85) eased the hosts to victory.

'They're a competitive side,' Brown added. 'They obviously did very well in the Championship last year and for one-day cricket they've got a fantastic looking side so I'm sure it's going to be very competitive.'

Norfolk and Cambs are in group two of the Unicorns Trophy alongside Suffolk, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Next Sunday Norfolk travel to Dunstable to take on Bedfordshire and then two weeks later they return to Manor Park to face Suffolk.

Their MCCA Championship season gets started on Sunday, June 8, away to Northumberland and gets into full flow in Harpenden on Sunday, July 6, when they face Hertfordshire.

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