Norfolk seal Minor Counties Championship third place in tense finish

Norfolk and Bedfordshire produced a thrilling finish for the second year running as the Minor Counties Championship clash at Luton ended in a draw.

After Norfolk's one-run victory at Manor Park last season, there was another tense finale yesterday as Beds, chasing 310, reached 303 for eight at the close.

Earlier, Sam Arthurton had fallen eight runs short of a second century in the match, before Trevor Ward hit 71no from 94 balls and Ashley Watson added 30 as Norfolk declared on 292 for four.

The hosts reached 75 without loss when left-arm spinner Watson made the breakthrough for Norfolk.

Beds were 200 for five with 15 overs remaining and made a determined effort to record their first win of the season. When Michael Eccles claimed his third wicket with the score on 297, hopes of another dramatic Norfolk win were raised – but this time Beds held out.

The draw secured a third-place finish for Norfolk – one better than last year – as Buckinghamshire's draw at Northumberland earned them top spot and a place in the Championship final next month against Western Division winners Cornwall.

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SCOREBOARD

Bedfordshire v Norfolk, Luton, day three

Overnight: Norfolk 350-9 (SS Arthurton 158, PA Lambert 54) & 151-0 (JM Spelman 56no, SS Arthurton 82no), Bedfordshire 333 (KJ Bunting 4-61)

• Norfolk 2nd innings (cont)

JM Spelman lbw Esh 63

SS Arthurton c Clayson b Weightman 92

S Gray b Weightman 4

TR Ward not out 71

AM Watson c Kerr b Esh 30

A Shearer not out 10

Extras 22

Total (4 wkts dec, 78 overs) 292

FoW: 1-160, 2-170, 3-177, 4-254

Bowling: Weightman 18-2-53-2, Griggs 18-1-57-0, Sneath 4-0-14-0, Reynoldson 9-2-37-0, Esh 21-2-83-2, Thurstance 8-0-37-0

• Bedfordshire 2nd innings

S Stubbings b Eccles 84

D Simpson c Lambert b Watson 22

G Thurstance run out (Spelman) 35

M Weightman c Lambert b Eccles 21

O Clayson c Bunting b Walker 46

A Reynoldson c Shearer b Spelman 3

M Goss c Gray b Eccles 49

C Griggs c Eccles b Watson 13

J Kerr not out 10

C Esh not out 3

Extras 17

Total (8 wkts, 68 overs) 303

FoW: 1-75, 2-134, 3-168, 4-171, 5-194, 6-241, 7-282, 8-297

Bowling: Eccles 15-0-57-3, Warnes 4-1-18-0, Watson 25-2-101-2, Bunting 6-0-27-0, Walker 9-0-61-1, Spelman 9-0-25-1.

Match drawn – Beds 12 points, Norfolk 12