Norfolk’s Sam Arthurton closing in on second century

Norfolk opener Sam Arthurton was closing in on another century as the runs continued to flow on the second day of the final Minor Counties Counties clash of the season at Wardown Park yesterday.

Arthurton followed up his superb 158 in the first innings with an unbeaten 82 to help the visitors to an impressive 151 without loss at stumps.

Having earlier dismissed Bedfordshire for 333 that put Norfolk 168 ahead going into the final day – and in a position to push for their second consecutive victory.

But even if they win it is unlikely to be enough to clinch the title, with leaders Buckinghamshire on 130 for 1 replying to Northumberland's 268 at Jesmond and well on the way to clinching the bonus points needed to finish above Norfolk no matter what happens at Luton.

Resuming on 84 for one, Buckinghamshire moved on to 144 before losing their second wicket but then stumbled to 174 for six as George Walker and Kieran Bunting made inroads into the hosts' middle order.

Bunting finished with his best Minor Counties figures for Norfolk – 4-61 – while skipper Walker weighed in with 3-71.

But, much to the visitors' frustration, Bedfordshire regrouped and like their opponents got comfortably past the 300 mark thanks to some spirited batting.

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Opener Graham Thurstance, who reached 48 on Sunday, led the way with a hard-hitting 106 from just 112 balls that included 14 fours.

Further useful contributions from Martin Weightman (63), Colin Griggs (41) and James Kerr (37) saw Bedfordshire finish on 333, 17 short of Norfolk's first innings effort.

Both sides picked up a maximum eight bonus points, with Norfolk clearly determined to go all out for the remaining 16 as their second innings got under way.

Spelman and Arthurton had put on 60 for the first wicket in the first innings and quickly surpassed that total in the second.

In the 41 overs available they batted superbly to get past the 150 mark and will now be looking to add more quick runs this morning to set up a chance of bowling Bedfordshire out for a second time.

The title might be beyond them – but Walker and his team will still want to end their rain-wrecked season on a high note.

• SCOREBOARD

Overnight: Norfolk 350 (S S Arthurton 158, P A Lambert 54); Bedfordshire 84-1.

• Bedfordshire First Innings (cont)

S C Stubbings lbw Bunting 33

G R Thurstance c Lambert b Bunting 106

A M Reynoldson b Bunting 8

O J Clayson lbw Bunting 0

M J Goss lbw Walker 3

M W Weightman c Shearer b Watson 63

C R Griggs c Bunting b Walker 41

J L Kerr run out 37

C J Esh c Arthurton b Walker 10

W E Sneath not out 4

Extras b4 lb5 nb8 w 3 20

Total (86.4 overs) 333

Fall: 1-10 2-144 3-169 4-171 5-174 6-174 7-265 8-300 9-327

Bowling: Eccles 10-1-52-0, Warnes 20-3-85-1, Bunting 18-4-61-4, Watson 20-3-55-1, Walker 18.4-2-71-3.

• Norfolk Second Innings

J M Spelman not out 56

S S Arthurton not out 82

Extras b2 lb3 nb8 13

Total (0 wkt, 41 overs) 151

Bowling: Griggs 4-1-14-0, Sneath 9-1-26-0, Weightman 10-0-27-0, Reynoldson 8-2-28-0, Esh 3-0-19-0, Thurstance 7-0-32-0.