Norfolk target progressing further in Unicorns Knockout Trophy this season

Norfolk bowler Harry Bush collides with a Suffolk batsman during a home victory in the Unicorns Knoc

Norfolk bowler Harry Bush collides with a Suffolk batsman during a home victory in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy last season. Photo :Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Competitive action begins for Norfolk in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy at Manor Park tomorrow.

Hertfordshire are the visitors for Norfolk's first match in Group Two of the Trophy, with trips to Ipswich and Cambridgeshire to come, either side of another home game, against Bedfordshire.

Norfolk have reached the quarter-finals of the competition in both of the last two seasons and skipper Chris Brown is hoping to go further this year.

'Any competition you enter you should set out trying to win it,' Brown said.

'We have reached the quarter-finals the last two years so that will be the minimum requirement we expect of ourselves – and hopefully two stages further.

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'We've played some good one-day cricket in recent years but came unstuck with a poor batting performance in the quarters at Wiltshire last season.

'We've started our preparation well, we played some good cricket last weekend against Essex seconds. Most of the batsman got a good runout and the bowling unit performed well so we're looking to hit the straps first thing.'

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That friendly against Essex's second XI ended in a 56-run victory for Norfolk in a 50-over match at Frinton-on-Sea.

Sam Arthurton top-scored with 70 as Norfolk scored 265-6 and Brown then took 4-21 in his 10 overs as the hosts were restricted to 209-8.

'Last Sunday against Essex was the first time a lot of the lads had played on grass following the winter,' Brown continued.

'There's a round of club matches in the EAPL on Saturday though and we expect each of the lads to improve around 15 to 20 per cent from their previous game. So hopefully by Sunday the lads will be well up to speed.'

Brown's work as a spin consultant for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has now led to him being elected to an ECB steering group entitled 'Making the Grade', which will assess player development from first-class counties second XI cricket and academies through to international levels.

Working alongside former England women's captain Clare Connor, national performance manager David Graveney, ECB chairman of cricket and Nottinghamshire CCC chairman Peter Wright and ECB elite coach development operations manager Gordon Lord.

His increased work with the ECB has seen an adjusted role with Horsford for the 40-year-old, with Ryan Findlay taking over as captain of the EAPL side and Brown taking up a director of cricket position.

'I've signed a contract with Horsford in the role of director of cricket through until 2017,' Brown explained. 'I'll still captain Norfolk but with more and more ECB commitments both myself and the club thought it was the right time to let someone else captain, whilst I'm still playing Premier League cricket for Horsford, rather than stopping playing altogether in a few years. Then I can offer my expertise and experience out in the field to help Ryan. So hopefully that will work well.'

Play is scheduled to start at 11am at Manor Park tomorrow.

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