Norfolk suffer final over defeat as Cumberland chase down tough target

James Spelman led the Norfolk resistance on the final day of their Minor Counties Championship match

James Spelman led the Norfolk resistance on the final day of their Minor Counties Championship match against Cumberland. Picture: Tim Ferley - Credit: Archant

The spectators who braved the miserable weather to take in the final day of Norfolk's Minor Counties Championship against Cumberland were rewarded with a thrilling finish - although it was the not the outcome they would have wished for.

Chris Brown's side ended up losing an enthralling encounter by six wickets after their visitors chased down a testing target of 103 in just 16 overs, with a straight six from Mattie McKiernan settling the issue.

Norfolk's batsman had battled bravely to save the game, but when they were finally dismissed for 159 it gave Cumberland - as it turned out - just enough time to turn what looked like being a frustrating draw into an exhilarating win.

After heavy overnight rain and more drizzle in the morning the chances of any play yesterday appeared to be in the balance, but it dried out in time for play to get under way, with Norfolk resuming their second innings on 16-0, a deficit of 41.

Sam Arthurton was first to go for 13 and when Jason Reynolds (16) and Rob Taylor (1) followed him back to the pavilion the home side were wobbling on 55-3.

James Hale (18) then helped James Spelman add 33 for the fourth wicket, but the pressure was soon right back on as Ben France and John Ewart were both out for ducks to leave the hosts on 96-6.

That became 127-8 as Chris Brown went for 13 and opener Spelman for a watchful 42 in 197 balls, meaning the tail needed to wag to prevent Cumberland from having a relatively easy run chase.

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Brett Stolworthy and Ben Coote rose to the challenge by putting on 32 for the ninth wicket while taking 12 overs out of the game, but once Stolworthy was dismissed for 24 the end came quickly.

Cumberland's run chase got off to a disastrous start as they slipped to 12-3 to prompt hopes of an unlikely home win, but skipper Gary Pratt and McKiernan calmed the nerves by taking the score to 50 before the former became Brown's second victim.

It was then a case of whether McKiernan and Ross Zelem could blast the runs required, with the rate rising to 22 off two overs before becoming 10 off one.

Taylor was entrusted with the final over and conceded four off the first three balls to leave six required from three deliveries, only one of which was required as McKiernan finished unbeaten on 51.

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