Norfolk lose to Cambridgeshire by 31 runs in final Festival game
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk's annual Festival of Cricket ended on a disappointing note yesterday when a decent chance to claim a second successive win passed them by.
Needing just 207 in their second innings to claim a victory that would have kept their Minor Counties East title hopes alive, Ashley Watson's side fell 31 runs short after Cambridgeshire bowled them out for 175.
The hosts had plenty of time to reach their target, having done well to reduce the visitors to 234 all out from 194-4 in their second innings. But on a pitch that made it difficult to score quickly they failed to build on a good start as spinners Paul McMahon and James Sykes took nine wickets between them to settle a topsy turvy encounter.
It was an exciting end to a low scoring game that had provided few thrills on the opening two days, but that was little consolation for Norfolk who will now go into their final three-day fixture of the summer against Bedfordshire at Luton next month with nothing but pride to play for.
Starting the day with a lead of 91, Cambridgeshire had a set pair at the crease and Josh Bowers and Rob Sayer took their fourth wicket partnership up to 95 before Sayer was caught by Jason Reynolds off the bowling of Ryan Findlay for 30.
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Bowers went on to reach three figures but when he was trapped lbw by Findlay for 103 a dramatic collapse saw the hosts slide to 201-8 before Sykes smashed an important 28 in 14 balls to give Norfolk a little more work to do in their second innings.
Findlay returned the excellent figures of 5-69 to go with the 4-36 he claimed in the win over Hertfordshire last time out, while stand-in skipper Watson took 3-33.
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After the early loss of Reynolds to a run-out in-form pair Sam Arthurton and Tom New appeared to have taken the game by the scruff of the neck as they put together a good partnership for the second wicket.
But when both men were bowled with the score on 87 the game was firmly back in the balance and it was Cambridgeshire who took control, with wickets falling at regular intervals as McMahon and Sykes turned the screw.
Findlay's unbeaten 28, which included five fours, gave the hosts some hope late on, but there was to be no happy ending.