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Norfolk fired up for big home tie after five years of away quarter-finals

Jordan Taylor on his way to an unbeaten 87 for Norfolk against Bedfordshire in the first round of the Knockout Trophy. Picture: TIM FERLEY

Jordan Taylor on his way to an unbeaten 87 for Norfolk against Bedfordshire in the first round of the Knockout Trophy. Picture: TIM FERLEY

Archant

Manor Park is set to host the biggest game of recent years tomorrow, when Norfolk take on Shropshire in the Unicorns Minor Counties Knockout Trophy quarter-finals.

After five successive seasons of an away tie in the last eight Norfolk have finally got a big one-day home tie to get their teeth into – and Ashley Watson’s team head into the game in good spirits. As well as brushing Bedfordshire aside with 10 wickets in hand in the first round, two Twenty20 victories at Beds last weekend kept Norfolk firmly in contention for a place at the Unicorns T20 finals day.

“We’re definitely in a good mood, morale’s high,” said one-day skipper Watson. “We had a good lengthy chat after the games at Bedfordshire about this weekend’s game so hopefully we can come away with a decent result.

“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd in, the weather is supposed to be good when I last checked and if the sun’s out that helps with the crowd, which boosts our performance and morale. That will get us right up for it because we won’t want to disappoint the crowd who give up their Sunday to come and support us.”

Norfolk are tied with Devon as the most successful team in the history of the Trophy, with five wins, the last of which was in 2009.

Last year’s quarter-final – before the group stages were dropped – was a five-wicket loss at Staffordshire, where a bowl-out had settled a weather affected tie the previous year. In 2015 it was a 15-run loss at Lincolnshire, a three-wicket loss at Wiltshire the year before and a 95-run defeat at Northumberland in 2013.

“With the previous five years being away it’s been a long drive back with a defeat but the last couple of years especially, due to the weather against Staffs,” Watson added. “So it’s a bit of a morale boost that we haven’t got to travel the night before to play in the quarter-finals.

“Two years ago it was a bowl-out and then last year I believe it came down to the toss. We played on a really wet wicket and lost the toss, they bowled us out quite cheaply and then they were five or six down chasing a low score, so it shows how much the toss can make a difference.”

Norfolk: Jordan Taylor, Sam Arthurton, Jason Reynolds, Rob Taylor, Stephen Marillier, Ashley Watson (C), Ben France, Ryan Findlay, Brett Stolworthy, Ben Coote, Sam Groves (WK), Will Rogers

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