Norfolk in driving seat against Cambridgeshire as day one ends early
2012's apology of a summer returned to put a brake on an encouraging half a day's cricket by Norfolk when they started their three-day Minor Counties Eastern Division Championship match with Cambridgeshire at Manor Park yesterday.
The rain resurfaced for the second of the host county's three-match festival, to leave Norfolk chomping at the bit with their rivals, who won the toss and chose to bat, struggling on 101-5 after 54 of their 90 overs.
And it was only the class of former Surrey and Nottinghamshire left-hander Darren Bicknell who got Cambs into three figures.
Bicknell, now 45, and who only recently made his Cambs debut, scored exactly 50 before falling leg before.
While his brother, seamer Martyn, played Test cricket for England, Darren was only ever capped for the one-day team. But he showed some batting class in stroking seven boundaries in a 126-ball half century that took 146 minutes.
Norfolk turned the screw after lunch. On 80-2 after 36 dour overs in the morning session, Cambs looked likely to launch an assault with Bicknell on 39 and Gary Park 26. Park, 29, was released by Derbyshire two weeks ago and was immediately signed by Cambs and the game marked his return to a side he last represented in 2005.
From lunch to the early close when the heavens opened, Norfolk enjoyed 18 overs which saw them concede just 21 runs while taking three wickets. Park, on 29, fell to a skied catch taken by Luke Caswell off skipper George Walker's bowling before Chris Thompson came and went without scoring when he tried to pull Chris Brown only to give Caswell another simple catch.
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When Brown got the leg before decision against Bicknell, minutes after the big left-hander had completed his 50, Cambs were reeling on 96-5. Norfolk had the visitors 19-2 after 10 overs. In the seventh over David Clarke tried to pull Michael Eccles but lost his leg stump before fellow opening bat Alan Burton was caught at second slip by Caswell off Michael Warnes. Then Bicknell and Park set about trying to build a Cambs total and by lunch they had batted sensibly to 80-2. But when Park was out to end a 69-run third wicket stand, Norfolk assumed the upper hand.
Norfolk v Cambridgeshire
Manor Park (Day 1 of 3)
Cambridgeshire won toss
Cambridgeshire 1st innings
DA Clarke b Eccles 3
AG Burton c Caswell b Warnes 2
DJ Bicknell lbw Brown 50
GT Park c Caswell b Walker 29
CEJ Thompson c Caswell b Brown 0
SM Park not out 6
LR Bruce not out 1
Extras (b 8 w 2) 10
Total (for 5 wkts, 54 overs) 101
Fall: 1-4; 2-19; 3-88; 4-93; 5-96.
Bowling: Eccles 12-2-27-1, Warnes 7-4-11-1, Caswell 6-3-8-0, Brown 15-5-20-2, Spelman 4-1-11-0, Walker 10-5-16-1.