Norfolk romp to victory in opening MCCA Knockout Trophy clash in Wiltshire
Norfolk skipper Chris Brown admitted he was 'ecstatic' after a stunning Wiltshire collapse ensured his captaincy reign got off to a winning start at Devizes yesterday.
Brown and fellow off-spinner Harry Bush each took five wickets as the hosts stumbled from 72 without loss to 110 all out. That handed Norfolk a 91-run win after earlier half-centuries from James Spelman and Sam Arthurton.
It was Norfolk's first victory in the competition since beating Berkshire in the group stages in May 2010 and Brown said: 'We showed a bit of character and fight out there after they made a flying start in their innings – we could easily have dropped our heads and they could have won it quickly by seven or eight wickets. As it turned out, myself and Harry changed the game, backed up by some excellent fielding and I am ecstatic.'
Norfolk chose to bat first, but lost debutant Ben France with just 12 on the board.
Spelman and Arthurton then joined forces in a stand of 94, before Trevor Ward added 25.
A late collapse saw four wickets fall with the score on 196, but a total of 201 for nine looked competitive on a pitch already taking spin.
Brown added: 'I thought James played beautifully and made it look relatively easy. He timed the ball as well as I have seen him and he looked the best batsman in the match on the day.
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'Sam, by his own admission, did not play as well as he can, but he still got 50 and I was really impressed with the way he didn't give it away and credit to him for that. I've seen him play a lot better, but his 67 was crucial and played a massive part in us winning the game.'
Norfolk's confidence in their total was shaken by the approach of South African-born Wiltshire opener Jayden Levitt, who reached his 50 from just 23 balls.
Paul Bradshaw, who had earlier been dismissed for a golden duck, suffered most as his four overs – including one maiden – cost 39 runs. Brown said: 'Our opening bowlers only bowled about three bad balls, he was hitting good length balls and chancing his arm.
'He played some great shots, but when they were 70 without loss you think you might be staring down the barrel. When the ball does fly around to all parts it's important that if you're going to get hit, get hit from good areas and then more often than not you will come out on top. I don't think the figures reflect how Bradshaw and Addison bowled.'
Bush made the breakthrough when he had Levitt caught by Arthurton – and from there it was a procession as the Wiltshire batsmen struggled against the turning ball.
All 10 wickets fell in the space of 16 overs and Brown was full of praise for his spin partner, who is often restricted to a part-time bowling role with Norfolk: 'He's been working hard on his bowling and he could be a lot better than just a part-time off-spinner,' he said. 'The pitch was not poor by any means, but they just didn't seem to have a method of how to play the spinners.'
Norfolk now face Shropshire at Manor Park on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6 and Brown is excited by their flying start: 'Wiltshire are not a bad side and they got to the final last year,' he said. 'I was really pleased with the lads' effort and happy to get the first win on the board.'