Norfolk take narrow lead into final day against Cambridgeshire
A fighting half-century from Sam Arthurton gave Norfolk a slender advantage at the end of day two in their Minor Counties Championship match against Cambridgeshire at Manor Park.
Arthurton made 63 as the hosts reached 177 for seven in their first innings at the close, a lead of 16 after bowling out Cambridgeshire for 161.
Norfolk have the option of batting on for a further eight overs this morning, but the match situation and the possibility of further rain means there may be some delicate calculations to be made on both sides if the second fixture in the annual Festival of Cricket is to produce a definite result.
A total of 98 minutes' play was lost yesterday thanks to three rain interruptions to the Norfolk innings.
Arthurton, coming in at 68 for one after Cambs off-spinner and skipper Paul McMahon claimed the first of his five wickets by removing opener James Spelman for 28, watched a flurry of partners depart as Norfolk slipped to 123 for six.
Veteran opener Carl Rogers made a valuable 39, sprinkled with some elegant boundaries, but Trevor Ward, Stephen Gray, Peter Lambert and Luke Caswell all fell for single-figure scores as McMahon, in a marathon spell, and spin partner Lewis Bruce worked their way through the middle order.
Arthurton's innings, lasting 161 minutes and 153 balls, was a model in concentration and application and a dogged seventh-wicket stand of 44 with Chris Brown nudged Norfolk into the lead. Brown was still unbeaten on 20 at the close, accompanied by skipper George Walker on one.
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Essex second eleven regular Arthurton brought up his half-century with a square-driven four off Garry Park, then spun himself off his feet with a towering six off Park, one bounce into the hospitality tent.
But such aggression was the exception and the 20-year-old admitted: 'It was hard work out there. It wasn't easy. The wicket offered a bit for the spinners. You just had to get your head down and work hard.
'Carl and Spellers gave us a good start as they usually do and I had to go in and build an innings.
'There were wickets falling at regular times, which isn't ideal but with the wicket the way it is, you do get a ball which has got your name on it. I just had to ride it and get through the pressure situation.
'From one of the ends overnight there was a bit of water on a length so it's helping the spinners. Some balls go straight, some spin a little bit with bounce as well. It makes it hard to know which way it's going to go but at the end of the day I think we did well to cope with that.
'We've got eight overs left in the morning so if we can we'll try to push on and get more of a lead. Whatever lead we get, that puts them under pressure if we get some early wickets.'
McMahon, a Lancastrian off-spinner like Brown and looking equally dangerous, finished the day with figures of five for 66 from 37 overs, while Bruce took two for 32.
Earlier in the day, paceman Michael Eccles and Brown finished with four wickets each as Cambs added 60 to their overnight first innings score of 101 for five, batting a further 26 overs in the morning session.
Three wickets fell in the first hour but Norfolk were held up by a ninth-wicket partnership of 40 between Paul Summerskill, who made 21, and McMahon, who finished 20 not out.
Eccles took three of the five wickets to fall – all caught behind by Gray – to finish with four for 44, while Brown returned figures of four for 45 from 28 overs, taking him to 13 in the festival so far, from nearly 100 overs bowled.
Norfolk finished the day with five bonus points to three for Cambs.
Overnight: Cambridgeshire 101-5 (D J Bicknell 50).
First innings cont
S M Park c Gray b Eccles 7
L R Bruce c Spelman b Brown 5
J D Williams c Athurton b Brown 12
P J McMahon not out 20
P Summerskill c Gray b Eccles 21
J M E Barrs c Gray b Eccles 0
Extras (b 9, w 3) 12
Total (80 overs) 161
Fall cont: 6-102, 7-114, 8-121, 9-161
Bowling: Eccles 20-5-44-4, Warnes 7-4-11-1, Caswell 6-3-8-0, Brown 28-8-45-4, Spelman 4-1-11-0, 15-5-33-1.
J M Spelman lbw McMahon 28
C J Rogers c Clarke b McMahon 39
S S Arthurton lbw McMahon 63
T R Ward lbw Bruce 4
S K Gray c Clarke b McMahon 5
P A Lambert b Bruce 2
L W Caswell c Summerskill b McMahon 2
C Brown not out 20
G W Walker not out 1
Extras (b 2, lb 1, w 6, nb 4) 13
Total (7 wkts, 82 overs) 177
Fall: 1-68, 2-75, 3-94, 4-101, 5-106, 6-123, 7-167
Bowling: Barrs 6-1-22-0, Williams 9-0-26-0, McMahon 37-10-66-5, Bruce 21-4-32-2, G T Park 9-1-28-0.
Bonus points to date: Norfolk 5, Cambs 3.