Norfolk v Northumberland third day
- Credit: Archant
On a day when the national news agenda was dominated by a future heir to the throne, Callum Taylor announced his arrival in Minor Counties cricket in regal fashion to sweep Norfolk to victory over Northumberland with 13 balls to spare.
Aged just 16 years and 26 days when this match began, Swardeston's rising star left nobody in an enthralled crowd in any doubt that he is a very special talent after coming in at a critical stage of a chase for a daunting victory target of 260 off 44 overs – and hitting a sublime match-winning 48 off just 33 balls.
An unforgettable three days of cricket had reached a critical point with Norfolk at 154 for four with 102 more needed to win off 13 overs.
After losing second day century-maker James Spelman on 10 and Ben France on 79, Nathan Perry-Warnes (68) and Trevor Ward (40) had laid the platform with a 57-run third wicket stand which took the score to 136.
Though Peter Lambert (31) maintained the required run-rate, wickets kept falling with the sixth going down on 192 with Norfolk still 68 runs short and nine overs to go. What followed may, in years to come, emerge as one of those 'I was there' moments.
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Taylor, having already confirmed he was undaunted by the pressure with a strike which cleared the cars beyond the long on boundary, was joined by skipper Chris Brown, who also faced 33 balls for his 31 and, like Taylor, hit two sixes.
In Taylor's case, however, the statistics tell only half the story. His pizazz, timing and choice of shot were exquisite while his speed between the wickets was such that at one point, when sprinting for a third bye, he appeared perilously close to overtaking the man whose legs are 22 years older.
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Eventually the scene seemed set for the ultimate storybook finish when Taylor was on 44 with six needed to win, one strike from a maiden 50. But he says: 'It wasn't even on my mind. All I wanted to do was get the team over the line. I'm chuffed to bits to have done that.'
It says much that he should have won the 'man of the match' award from David Armstrong for his 48 in a game which featured three centuries. It is also helps deflect accusations of hyperbole when describing this match when someone like the former Norfolk secretary – and so much more besides – should say: 'I thought in 48 years at the club I had seen everything, but I've not seen a game like this.'
A total of 1,322 runs scored in three days with four results possible right up to the last three overs. Cricket doesn't get much better.
Norfolk began the day knowing that, with Northumberland at 134-1, they needed to take quick wickets to have a chance of forcing a result. And, after a rain delayed start, they got exactly what they wanted with Michel Eccles trapping Jack Jessup lbw for 39 before a run had been added and first innings century-maker Sam Jobson caught by Ben France off Brown having added only one to his overnight 75.
Though the run chase brought home the points, the morning was a story of Norfolk bowlers regularly chipping wickets away to make what followed a tantalising possibility – Eccles finishing with 3-75 and Brown 3-21. But with Trevor Cant making 61 and sharing in an eighth-wicket stand of 78 with Paul Morse (28) they still reached 302 to set a tough target.
Brown, who admitted to feeling the strain of trying to keep pace with Taylor between the wickets, declared himself 'very proud' of the way his team had secured their first Championship win of the season, saying: 'It was a fantastic game of cricket. It was a great effort to bowl them out for 302 and then reach a target of 260 in 41 overs. We've been in those positions plenty of times and come up short.'
Regarding Taylor, who is due to return to Development XI action against Essex at Horsford tomorrow, Brown added: 'I always knew he had the skill. He's a sweet player and always has been. But to do it under pressure, with a big crowd against decent opposition is a superb effort.'
Though it didn't show, Taylor admitted he'd been 'very nervous.' Now he has given the Norfolk selectors some interesting decisions for the game against Bucks, starting on Sunday, when four missing regulars are all available.
Norfolk v Northumberland, day 3
Overnight: Northumberland 358-7 (S Jobson 123, D Young 69, A Cragg 66, J Coyne 57) & 134-1 (S Jobsob 75no); Norfolk 401-7 (J Spelman 181, T Ward 101)
Northumberland 2nds innings continued
S Jobson c France b Brown 76
J Jessop lbw b Eccles 39
JD Craigs c Ward b Eccles 8
AD Cragg c Lambert b Eccles 20
JJ Coyne c Blake b Bunting 24
TJ Cant lbw b Brown 61
PA Morse b Bunting 0
NC Phillips c Brown b Findlay 28
R Stanyon c Ward b Brown 9
CT Harding not out 13
Extras b1 lb3 w1 nb2 7
Total (90 overs) 302
Fall: 1-40 2-134 3-136 4-156 5-169 6-194 7-202 8-280 9-280.
Bowling: Eccles 20-4-75-3, Bunting 16-2-68-2, Brown 30-13-71-3, Findlay 12-1-43-1, France 12-1-41-0
Norfolk 2nd innings
JM Spelman c Cragg b Harding 10
N Perry-Warnes st Cragg b Coyne 68
BJ France b Coyne 20
TR Ward c Cragg b Morse 40
P Lambert b Coyne 31
CJ Taylor not out 48
RJ Findlay c Jessop b Phillips 8
C Brown not out 31
Extras lb5 5
Total (6 wkts, 41.5 overs) 261
Fall: 1-10 2-79 3-136 4-154 5-171 6-192.
Bowling: Harding 9-1-44-1, Stanyon 4-0-24-0, Coyne 16.5-0-112-3, 9-1-41-1, Cant 1-0-3-0, Morse 4-0-25-1
Norfolk (23pts) beat Northumberland (7pts) by 4 wickets