Norfolk come back strongly against Buckinghamshire

Norfolk launched an excellent fightback to narrowly take the honours on a fascinating first day of their Minor Counties Championship clash with Buckinghamshire at Manor Park.

Having recorded a thrilling win over Northumberland in their previous Festival game in similar batsman friendly conditions Chris Brown's men appear to be on a mission to record a notable double after once again bowling with great discipline to frustrate the opposition.

Batting first on a wicket that had runs written all over it, and with a parched outfield providing added assistance, Buckinghamshire must have been rubbing their hands with glee after winning the toss. But from a position of strength at 237 for three they then lost their next seven wickets for just 75 and had to settle for a total of 312 on a surface that promised much more.

Having dismissed the visitors in just 74.2 overs Norfolk then had more time than they would dared have hoped for to eat into that total on the first day. And they duly built on the good work of the bowlers by finishing on 106 for one at stumps, with opener James Spelman unbeaten on 56.

'It was a very pleasing first day for us,' said Norfolk skipper Chris Brown, who led the fine bowling effort with figures of five for 74. 'Everyone played their part to make it as difficult as possible for Bucks on an excellent surface and myself and Ryan (Findlay) chipped in with a few wickets to bowl them out for a total that we would certainly have taken at lunch.

'We also batted well in the final session and now we have got to build on that and get a first innings lead.'

Buckinghamshire's batsmen were in commanding form early on, with Shaan Khan (74) and Hamza Taj (32) putting on 109 for the first wicket and Rob White and skipper David Cranfield-Thompson carrying on the good work when the openers had departed. It was looking ominous at one stage but the match turned when Payne was trapped leg before by Brown for 59. Cranfield-Thompson maintained his progress and got past three figures with a six. But all the time he was losing partners and the final six batsman contributed just 14 between them as a promising Bucks effort fizzled out in the face of some steady bowling, most notably from Brown and Findlay (three for 48).

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Norfolk openers James Spelman and Ben France must have been delighted to be batting so early and looked untrouble as they took the hosts to 59 before France was trapped leg before for 21. With a spell of bad light slowing things down Trevor Ward helped Spelman maintain the progress and the opener reached his half century just before the close with his 10th four.