Norfolk reach Twenty20 Finals Day after recording two exciting wins
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk booked their place in the Minor Counties Twenty20 Finals Day after winning two thrilling games at Manor Park yesterday.
Ashley Watson's side needed two victories against Hertfordshire and a favour from elsewhere to progress - and that's exacly what transpired as they prevailed by first eight and then two runs while, over at March, rivals Cambridgeshire were coming unstuck in their final fixture.
Norfolk now have a big challenge to look forward to at Wormsley Park in Buckinghamshire on Sunday, August 26, where they will battle it out with three other regional winners for the national title.
A day out at the picturesque Sir Paul Getty Ground promises to be one to remember for the county's players and supporters and it was certainly earned the hard way as a battling Hertfordshire side twice pushed their hosts all the way when chasing big totals.
The opening match saw Norfolk make 166-7 in their 20 overs, with recently qualified opener Stephan Marillier leading the way. The big-hitting Zimbawbean smashed 62 in only 34 balls, with four fours and five sixes, to set his side on their way to a handy score, with Ashley Watson (25) and Jason Reynolds (20) also making useful contributions.
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Hertfordshire fell just short on 158-8 in reply with Ben Coote (3-28) and Brett Stolworthy (2-26) taking top honours in a tidy bowling effort.
That left Norfolk joint top of the table with 10 points from seven games, with Cambridgeshire having seen off Bedfordshire by 44 runs in their opener, meaning even a win in the final match would not guarantee progress.
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The home side knew it might all come down to run rate and duly set off at a rapid rate of knots in the afternoon match, with Sam Arthurton and Marillier putting on a quick-fire 65. Marillier went first for 35 in 18 balls but Arthurton stayed put to make 69 in 57 with a variety of partners to take his side up towards the 150 mark.
Late momentum was then provided by Ben Coote who hammered 34 in just 11 balls, with 30 of the runs coming in sixes, to help Norfolk up to a formidable 206-5.
Hertfordshire were not finished however and after an indifferent start Jamie Southgate made a magnificent unbeaten 116 in just 47 balls to get them up to 204-7 in their 20 overs. Southgate did virtually all the scoring in the latter stages, hitting 12 fours and seven sixes, but with 21 needed off the final over it was not enough.
It was then just a case of hoping for good news from March, and Cambridgeshire's 15 run defeat at the hands of the group whipping boys confirmed Norfolk's progress.