Norfolk skipper was encouraged by final-day heroics in home defeat to Cambridgeshire

James Spelman bowling his occasional leg-spin during day two of Norfolk's clash with Cambridgeshire

James Spelman bowling his occasional leg-spin during day two of Norfolk's clash with Cambridgeshire at Manor Park. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

A heroic final-day effort has left skipper Chris Brown brimming with pride – despite Norfolk's three-match festival coming to a losing end.

Chasing a huge 320 for victory against Cambridgeshire on Tuesday, the hosts fell just short of pulling off a remarkable comeback at Manor Park. A defeat by 18 runs may have been scant consolation for an excellent batting display, but Brown insists his men can take great heart from their determined showing.

'It was a significant toss for Cambs to win and while our first innings (181) may have cost us, we were so much better in the second on a wearing pitch,' said the spin bowler.

'To get that close to that total showed real character and I'm so proud with the way we batted. Although the result didn't go our way, it was a first-class effort and I know we, the members and everybody else who watched, are so pleased with how we performed.'

The result of the closing fixture in the annual Norfolk Festival of Cricket left Brown's boys with a mixed record from this year's showcase. A victory over Hertfordshire had been followed up with a draw against 2014 Minor Counties champions Staffordshire.

The Norfolk captain said: 'The first match of the festival went absolutely brilliantly against Hertfordshire and it was a sublime performance in all departments.

'The Staffordshire match was rain-affected but we bowled very well against them. And then against Cambs, to get so close on a wearing last-day pitch against a very good bowling attack, really was a credit to the guys. In particular Jimmy (James) Hale (86 not out), Parky (Garry Park, 53) and Sam Arthurton (62) were excellent.'

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Hale's fine display on his 2015 Minor Counties debut will see him keep his place for the last match of the campaign next weekend at Lincolnshire (August 16-18). Norwich wicketkeeper Jason Blake looks set to replace the unavailable Sam Groves.

Brown added: 'Jimmy got his first taste of Minor Counties cricket last year against Bucks and by his own admission he found the standard of cricket and skills needed at this level compared to the EAPL quite a rude awakening. He's knuckled down and improved greatly. He batted beautifully on Tuesday and looks like he will play a prominent role for us in the future.'

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