Norfolk recover from difficult start to end first day against Cambridgeshire on top
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk recovered from an unpromising start to take the upper hand on the first day of their Minor Counties Championship clash against Cambridgeshire at Manor Park on Sunday.
Needing to win the final Festival of Cricket match of the summer to retain a chance of challenging for the title, the hosts were struggling early on as Cambridgeshire reached 171-3 after being asked to bat first.
But an excellent fightback then saw the visitors dismissed for just 210 and with Norfolk reaching 113-2 in reply, with the in-form Sam Arthurton unbeaten on 58, it was a good day's work from Ashley Watson's team.
Standing in as three-day skipper with Chris Brown spending this week coaching with England's Under-17s, Watson had a quick decision to make when he called correctly and he decided to put the opposition in in overcast conditions.
It seemed like a sensible move but Cambrideshire openers Lee Thomason and Paul McMahon were able to see off the new ball and take the score up to 83 before McMahon was caught behind by Tom New off the bowling of Brett Stolworthy for 35.
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It was tough going for the hosts and they were not helped by an injury to all-rounder Ben Coote who pulled up after bowling just seven deliveries, having only just returned to action.
The visitors continued to make steady progress, with Thomason, who went on to make 68, and Callum Guest (29) putting on a further 50 for the second wicket.
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Josh Bowers and Rob Sayer also did their bit with knocks of 17 - but from a position of strength Cambridgeshire suddenly lost five wickets for the addition of nine runs to slip to 180-8.
A partnership of 28 for the ninth wicket between James Williams and Zaman Akhter then took the away side past 200 before Watson's men wrapped things up.
An excellent effort with the ball was led by Ben France and Stolworthy who between them bowled all but 20 of the 67.4 overs that were sent down. Stolworthy finished with figures of 4-83 and France 4-54, with Andy Hanby weighing with 2-50 on what was a day for the seamers.
In reply Matthew Plater went for just 18 before Arthurton and New got together to put on 72 for the second wicket.
New went just before the close for 32 but Will Rogers saw the day out with Arthurton, who passed 600 Championship runs for the season with a patient unbeaten half century which spanned 137 balls and included only three boundaries.