Norfolk take the positives from defeat
Player-coach Chris Brown insisted it had been a good weekend's work despite Norfolk suffering two narrow defeats in their pre-season friendlies at the weekend.
A three-wicket defeat against Essex II at Southend on Saturday was followed by a last-over thriller at Manor Park yesterday, as MCC Young Cricketers edged to a one-wicket victory.
Brown said: 'It's been a very worthwhile weekend and we've all got a bit of rust out of the system. There have been some good positives from both days and really the results at this stage are irrelevant. It's more about getting all of the players involved some useful practice.
'Apart from the lads who have been to Australia over the winter, this was our first outing on grass this year. You tend to improve each time you play at this stage of the year and I'm sure we'll all be raring to go for the first league games this weekend.
'No-one has scored 50 or taken four wickets over the two games, but everyone has chipped in and it's given us an idea of what we have available for the first one-day match next month.'
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Yesterday's match at Manor Park saw Norfolk openers James Spelman (46) and Stephen Gray (38) put on 104 for the first wicket after the hosts had elected to bat.
Chris Borrett (48) and Tom Collishaw (49no) also made healthy contributions to a Norfolk total of 276 for seven from their 50 overs.
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The MCC – captained by their coach and former England international Mark Alleyne – looked to be heading for certain defeat as they were reduced to 134 for seven, with spinners George Walker, Brown and Spelman accounting for six of the wickets.
But the eighth wicket pair of Mubasher Hassan (65) and Andrew Clarke (61) put on 130 to turn the game on its head. There was a final twist as both batsmen fell in quick succession, but the MCC's last wicket pair guided the visitors to victory with two balls to spare.
Norfolk pushed a strong Essex II side all the way in Saturday's match.
The Essex side featured several players with first team experience, including Mark Pettini, Tim Phillips and Graham Napier.
Norfolk won the toss and elected to bat, but were immediately in trouble against the seam attack of Napier and England Under-19 left armer Tymal Mills.
Carl Rogers, Borrett and Spelman all fell cheaply and Sam Arthurton, who has completed his stint at the Essex Academy, was unable to boost his chances of a recall to the Essex II side as he was dismissed for one.
Peter Lambert (24) was the only one of the top five to reach double figures, as Norfolk slumped to 38 for five.
Gray (24) and Tom Collishaw (26) stopped the rot with a stand of 59, while skipper Walker (27no) and Swardeston clubmate Michael Eccles (18) boosted the total to 169 with a last wicket partnership of 37.
Essex looked to be cruising as Pettini (43) and Nick Browne (20) put on 64 for the first wicket, before Norfolk spinners Walker and Brown claimed two wickets apiece as the hosts fell to 89 for four. Essex recovered with a fifth wicket stand of 45 between Napier (29) and Ben Foakes (38). Despite a third wicket for Walker and a victim apiece for part-time spinners Spelman and Arthurton, Essex reached their victory target in the 39th over.
Essex II v Norfolk, Southend
Essex II won by three wkts
CJ Rogers c Browne b Napier 4
PA Lambert c Browne b Mills 24
CR Borrett lbw b Napier 0
JM Spelman b Napier 1
SS Arthurton lbw b Mills 1
+SK Gray c and b Carpenter 24
TM Collishaw st Foakes b Phillips 26
P Yates c Phillips b Carpenter 4
*GW Walker not out 27
C Brown c Foakes b Mills 3
MP Eccles lbw b Phillips 18
Extras (b 4 lb 4 w 29) 37
Total (42 overs) 169
Non batter: AJM Todd
Fall: 8; 21; 29; 36; 38; 97; 105; 123; 132
Bowling: G Napier 7-1-30-3, T Mills 8-0-26-3, M Comber 6-0-15-0, D Masters 5-0-35-0, T Phillips 9-1-27-2, J Carpenter 7-0-28-2
• Essex II
ML Pettini c Lambert b Walker 43
NJ Browne lbw b Brown 20
TJ Phillips c Rogers b Brown 8
MA Comber c and b Walker 2
+BT Foakes lbw b Arthurton 38
*GR Napier c Todd b Spelman 29
KS Toor b Walker 14
AJ Hearne not out 1
GWC Balmford not out 0
Extras (w 13 nb 2) 15
Total (7 wkts, 38.2 overs) 170
Non Batter: D Masters
Fall: 64; 80; 82; 89; 134; 169; 169
Bowling: M Eccles 6.2-0-42-0, A Todd 4-0-23-0, C Borrett 4-0-11-0, C Brown 9-1-29-2, G Walker 9-1-39-3, J Spelman 5-1-26-1, S Arthurton 1-1-0-1
• Norfolk v MCC Young Cricketers, Manor Park
MCC Young Cricketers won by one wkt
JM Spelman c Marsh b Alleyne 46
SK Gray lbw b Hassan 38
CR Borrett c and b ul Haq 48
SS Arthurton lbw b Porter 2
TM Collishaw not out 49
LW Caswell lbw b Hassan 16
C Brown b Alleyne 10
RJ Findlay c ul Haq b Clarke 5
*GW Walker not out 1
Extras (b 1 lb 16 w 38 nb 6) 61
Total (7 wkts, 50 overs) 276
Non batter: +DJ Smith
Fall: 104; 126; 137; 192; 238; 263; 275
Bowling: A Clarke 10-1-48-1, J Porter 8-1-37-1, K Garside 0.2-0-14-0, M Alleyne 7.4-0-42-2, M Hassan 10-0-42-2, J Southgate 10-0-55-0, H ul Haq 4-0-21-1
• MCC Young Cricketers
N Browne c Arthurton b Bradshaw 11
S Poynter c Gray b Walker 41
E Ballard c Caswell b Brown 21
S Terry c and b Brown 18
J Southgate c Caswell b Walker 21
H Ul Haq c Borrett b Spelman 12
M Hassan c Brown b Caswell 65
C Marsh c and b Spelman 2
A D Clarke lbw b Walker 61
J Porter not out 3
K Garside not out 2
Extras (lb 7 w 12 nb 2) 21
Total (9 wkts, 49 4 overs) 278
Non Batter: *M Alleyne
Fall: 26; 60; 89; 101; 126; 131; 134; 264; 270
Bowling: P Bradshaw 6-0-19-1, M Warnes 9-0-61-0, C Brown 9-0-63-2, C Borrett 5-0-17-0, G Walker 9-1-34-3, J Spelman 6-0-26-2, R Findlay 3-0-22-0, L Caswell 2.4-0-29-1.