Norfolk in trouble after collapse
Norfolk are staring a second succesive Minor Counties Championship defeat in the face after a dramatic second day collapse against Cumberland at Barrow-in-Furness.
Chris Brown's side did well to restrict their hosts to 175 to establish a five-run lead – and then recovered from a poor start to reach 62 for two in their second innings.
But once a 53-run third wicket partnership between Ben France (45) and Trevor Ward (32) was broken it was the stuff of nightmares for the visitors, who in the blink of an eye slumped to 68 for eight, with four successive batsmen being dismissed for ducks. With Ali Shearer, Brown and debutants Matt Plater and Ryan Findlay all failing to trouble the scorers Cumberland were firmly in the driving seat and at the close of play Norfolk were nine wickets down with only 101 on the board.
With a lead of just 106 they will now be hoping Michael Eccles and Kieran Bunting can add a few more runs to give the bowlers something to defend on the final day, when life is again expected to be tough for batsmen.
Norfolk had struggled on the opening day in bowler friendly conditions, eventually grinding their way to 180.
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But they took little time yesterday to prove they were still much very in the match.
Cumberland started the day on nine without loss but they were soon 33 for three as opening bowler Bunting ripped through the top order.
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The youngster had James Lowe caught by Ali Shearer for a watchful 16 before bowling fellow opener Jonathan Miles and having Alex Atkinson caught behind by Sam Groves.
At that stage Norfolk looked as though they might even be able to grab a substantial first innings lead but Gary Pratt - who once famously ran out Ricky Ponting as an England substitute - and Logan Weston ended any such hopes.
Their fourth wicket partnership of 51 put Cumberland firmly back in the game and when Pratt was bowled by Ben France for 24, his colleague continued to score at a decent pace.
Weston had reached 61 off only 89 balls – an extremely good strike-rate in the context of the match – when France disturbed his stumps, and from then on it was merely a question of how many more runs the hosts could eke out.
Thanks to the efforts of tailenders Toby Bulcock and Richard Gleeson they got close to Norfolk's total, but eventually fell five runs short as Bunting accounted for last man Scott Richardson to match France's four-wicket haul.