Watson leads Norfolk fightback with unbeaten 67

Ashley Watson scored an unbeaten 67 for Norfolk against Bedfordshire Picture: TIM FERLEY

Ashley Watson scored an unbeaten 67 for Norfolk against Bedfordshire Picture: TIM FERLEY - Credit: Archant

Ashley Watson led a determined Norfolk fightback on the opening day of their final Minor Counties Championship match of the season against Bedfordshire at Luton.

The all-rounder put a poor campaign with the bat behind him by making an unbeaten 67 as the visitors recovered from 90-6 to reach 239 in their first innings.

On a day when batsmen had to work for hard for their runs that was a more than respectable total and Norfolk quickly took an early wicket before Bedfordshire recovered to finish an evenly contested day on 47-1.

Chris Brown won his final toss as skipper and opted to bat first but Norfolk soon found themselves in trouble at 25-3, with the in-form Sam Arthurton having a rare failure and Jason Reynolds and Will Rogers also back in the pavilion.

Tom New and Ben France repaired some of the damage with a fourth wicket partnership of 60 but France's dismissal for 31 triggered a collapse that saw New follow him for 45 and Chris Read go for just one on his Norfolk debut.

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It was then that Watson took centre stage as a series of solid partnerships took Norfolk well past the 200 mark.

Brett Stolworthy (24) was his first willing ally, with youngster Charlie Rogers then marking his county bow by making 22 in a seventh wicket stand of 48.

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That got Norfolk up to 181-8 and Brown (13) and last man Andy Hanby (17) also did their bit, with 38 being added for the final wicket.

Hanby quickly bowled Luke Thomas for four to leave Bedfordshire on 6-1 in reply, but James Kettleborough and Ben Mansell then saw the hosts through to the close with a watchful unbeaten partnership of 41.

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