Norfolk hit back after poor start
The first hour of this morning's second day in the Minor Counties Championship match between Norfolk and Bedfordshire will almost certainly settle the bottom-of-the-table contest.
That was Norfolk captain George Walker's view at Manor Park, Horsford at the end of a day which saw the home side fight back from a pre-lunch horror session.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Walker's side crashed to 65-7 at lunch.
But a rally by the tail led by Luke Caswell and hard graft from the bowlers left the match looking less one-sided, with the visitors on 133-5 after 49 overs at stumps, 19 short of Norfolk's 152 all out.
'We got better as the day went on,' said Walker, who defended his decision to bat first.
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'I thought it would be tough early on but knew it would get better later and figured if we could get through to lunch without too much damage we would benefit.'
'But Beds bowled very well. We didn't give it away. And in the end we played ourselves back into it.
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'The first hour of the second day will be crucial. If we can grab a couple of early wickets, we can still win,' he added.
Beds' former Essex paceman Andy McGarry caused the early damage. After fellow opener Colin Griggs had removed Carl Rogers with his fourth delivery, McGarry had James Spelman caught and Norfolk reeling at 0-2.
Indeed it wasn't until the 26th minute of the match that Norfolk put a run on the board.
McGarry, on his way to a 5-28 haul, had Trevor Ward and Matthew Warnes both taken at slip and Stephen Gray leg before while Peter Lambert edged behind.
After lunch Walker was caught to leave Norfolk 75-8.
Seventeen-year-old debutant Olly Stone then drove the first ball he faced for four and with Caswell, the teenager added 22 of a 39-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Last man Michael Warnes followed that example and when he fell for 18, leaving Caswell unbeaten on 37, the pair had added 38 vital runs for the last wicket.
Bedfodshire reached 27 without worries until Warnes struck with two wickets in two balls. He then removed Ollie Swann, Walker trapped opposing captain Ollie Clayson leg before and then Stone completed his good day by cleaning up opener James Kettleborough for 42.
That left the visitors on 95-5 but by the close they were closing in on Norfolk's total with those five wickets still in hand.
'It was a bad morning but we did well to turn it around,' said Norfolk player-coach Chris Brown.
The second day's play starts this morning at 11am.
• Norfolk first innings
J M Spelman c Hartley b McGarry 0
C J Rogers c Thurstance b Griggs 0
M R Warnes c Kettleborough b McGarry 12
T R Ward c Kettleborough b McGarry 11
P A Lambert c Hartley b McGarry 18
S K Gray lbw b McGarry 5
L W Caswell not out 37
C Brown lbw b Griggs 0
G W Walker c Stubbings b Griggs 6
O P Stone b Arshad 22
M W Warnes b Griggs 18
Extras b5 lb9 w3 nb6 23
Total (57.1 overs) 152
Fall: 1-0 2-0 3-20 4-25 5-43 6-48 7-61 8-75 9-114.
Bowling: McGarry 20-11-28-5, Griggs 16.1-8-33-4, Weightman 7-1-29-0, Arshad 9-1-31-1, Esh 5-1-17-0
• Bedfordshire first innings
J M Kettleborough b M Warnes 18
G R Thurstance b Stone 42
S C Stubbings b M Warnes 0
O J D Swann lbw b M Warnes 3
O J Clayson lbw b Walker 6
M W Weightman not out 38
D Hartley not out 15
Extras lb8 w1 nb2 11
Total (5 wkts, 49 overs) 133
Fall: 1-27 2-27 3-43 4-65 5-95
Bowling: Stone 13-3-42-1, M Warnes 10-1-26-3, Walker 13-4-29-1, Spelman 3-1-14-0, Brown 10-4-14-0