Norfolk slump to second Minor Counties defeat of season
There was to be no miraculous comeback from Norfolk on the final day of their Minor Counties encounter at Barrow-in-Furness, with opponents Cumberland romping home to an emphatic eight-wicket victory.
Chris Brown's men could only add five runs to their bitterly disappointing end of play total of 101 for nine yesterday and, needing just 112 to win, the hosts got home with few alarms on a pitch that had posed big problems for batsman on the first two days.
Norfolk ultimately paid the price for a poor third innings display, with a stunning collapse from 62 for two to 68 for eight on Monday setting the scene for their second Championship defeat of the season, after a similar setback against Cambridgeshire in their opener at Wisbech.
They now have to pick themselves up for next month's Manor Park Festival, which begins on July 21 with a match against Northumberland, and Brown knows his team will have plenty to prove in front of their own supporters when the action gets under way.
'One or two decisions didn't go our way but, no excuses, to be bowled out for 106 in the second innings wasn't good enough,' he said.
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'It was a similar story at Wisbech - we played some good cricket there but had one really bad session which cost us the game.
'This time we battled our way to 180 in our first innings and then bowled well to restrict Cumberland to 175 so to see the wickets tumble like they did yesterday (Monday) was really disappointing.'
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Norfolk went into the game missing the services of five key men, with Luke Caswell, Stephen Gray, Sam Arthurton, Harry Bush and Peter Lambert all unavailable for one reason or another, and Brown is hoping to have the majority of them back for Festival duty.
'A number of our young players are being called up to play at a higher level and while that's a good thing it can make life diffucult for us,' said Brown.
'I am hoping at least four will be available for selection for the Northmberland game and that would obviously give us a big boost.
'It was always going to be tough with those players out - but the youngsters who came in will benefit from the experience. It's all part of the learning curve.'
To stand any realistic chance of turning the game around yesterday Norfolk needed runs from the last wicket pairing of Michael Eccles and Kieran Bunting but when the latter became Richard Gleeson's ninth victim of the game with the total having advanced to just 106 the writing was on the wall for the visitors.
Cumberland openers James Lowe and Matthew Taaffe saw off the new ball and had taken the score to 29 before Brown's men finally made a breakthrough, Ryan Findlay trapping Taaffe leg before for 10.
That meant the youngster – pictured below – had marked his debut with a wicket as well as a defiant 22 from 61 balls in the first innings, but that was a small consolation as the hosts continued to make steady progress towards their modest victory target.
Norfolk did get one more wicket - Brown having Jonathan Miles caught by Trevor Ward for 11 with the score on 56 - but from then on in it really was plain sailing.
An unbroken stand of 56 between Lowe and Gary Pratt saw Cumberland coast home inside 30 overs, Lowe finishing unbeaten on 64, the game's highest score, with his fine innings including 10 fours.