Spelman ton fires Norfolk
Norfolk are poised to complete their second successive Minor Counties Championship victory today after continuing to dominate neighbours Suffolk on day two at Manor Park.
The hosts extended their lead to 121 yesterday and when rain brought an early finish to proceedings, Suffolk were still 12 runs short of wiping out that deficit with five wickets down.
After Suffolk had been bowled out cheaply on the first day, James Spelman ensured Norfolk did not suffer a similar fate as he registered his seventh Championship century. The Great Witchingham opener was finally out to the last ball of the innings, having made 138 from 279 balls, with 17 fours. Spelman was one of the few batsmen to look comfortable in tricky batting conditions and he said: 'It was pretty much hard going. There was a bit of spin and it wasn't easy.
'It was a bit of a grind, but I just wanted to make sure I stayed in and gave us a lead.'
Despite Norfolk's strong position, Spelman is wary of chasing a target on a final day pitch which has already yielded 13 wickets to spin: 'If we can restrict them so that we're not chasing more than 100 it would be handy,' he said. 'We've got all day and we could probably chase anything up to 150, but that would not be easy.'
Spelman and Matthew Warnes advanced the score to 141 yesterday morning before Warnes was visibly disappointed to be given out caught behind down the leg side.
New batsman Sam Arthurton was involved in a mix-up with Spelman which resulted in bowler Tom Huggins injuring his hand as he took off the bails. Huggins left the field for a trip to hospital shortly afterwards and although he returned to the ground later in the day he is yet to bat in the Suffolk second innings.
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Arthurton never truly settled and a Philip Edwards delivery caught the edge for a straightforward slip catch, before a disgruntled Trevor Ward was given out lbw – the professional making his feelings clear that he had edged the ball.
Peter Lambert top edged a pull shot to depart for two as a slightly turgid morning session threatened to unravel for Norfolk.
Spelman, however, continued to advance smoothly and reached his century just before lunch.
The shackles came off after the break as Spelman and Stephen Gray (24) added 60 for the fifth wicket, while the arrival of Luke Caswell at the crease came at the perfect time for Norfolk. The Horsford all-rounder twice deposited sixes towards the pavilion and with Spelman's delicate touch proving equally effective, Norfolk added 41 in the last five overs, finishing on 302 for six as Spelman's outstanding effort ended with a reverse sweep looping to short third man.
Michael Warnes struck in the first over of the Suffolk reply to complete Martyn Cull's pair in the match, Ward taking the catch at slip, before the visitors recovered to 74 for one.
Just as frustration was building, Norfolk skipper George Walker made the breakthrough as Archie Gravell was smartly stumped by Gray.
During that partnership there was a second casualty of the day as umpire Barry Toombs was struck on the shin at square leg. Fortunately experienced umpire John Tythcott was on hand to temporarily replace him, and when Toombs returned he was immediately called upon to give an lbw decision against an unimpressed Hasan Adnan, making it 75 for three.
Ben France had batted positively to reach 63 but Brown got one to bite and catch his outside edge, before the player-coach collected his eighth wicket of the match when Chris Warn scooped a catch to Arthurton at midwicket.
The rain brought a temporary reprieve for Suffolk – but a good forecast means there should be no escape for them today.
Minor Counties Championship
Norfolk v Suffolk, Manor Park, Day Two
Overnight: Suffolk 181 (C Brown 5-31), Norfolk 107-0 (JM Spelman 45no, MR Warnes 41no)
• Norfolk 1st Inns (cont)
JM Spelman c Bishop b Finch 138
MR Warnes c Warn b Huggins 49
SS Arthurton c Finch b Edwards 8
TR Ward lbw Edwards 2
PA Lambert c&b Edwards 2
SK Gray c Adnan b Bishop 24
LW Caswell not out 37
Total (6 wkts, 90 overs) 302
FoW: 1-141, 2-175, 3-180, 4-182, 5-242, 6-302
Bowling: PJ Edwards 18.2-6-37-3, MD Hunn 9-2-31-0, JE Bishop 16-2-74-1, BJ France 5-1-19-0, JM Finch 33-7-109-1, TB Huggins 8.4-1-18-1.
• Suffolk 2nd Inns
MG Cull c Ward b Warnes 0
BJ France c Gray b Brown 63
APD Gravell st Gray b Walker 22
Hasan Adnan lbw Brown 0
JE Bishop not out 12
CJ Warn c Arthurton b Brown 5
JM Finch not out 1
Total (5 wkts, 40.4 overs) 109
(FoW: 1-0, 2-74, 3-75, 4-96, 5-106
Bowling: MW Warnes 6-2-16-1, KJ Bunting 4-1-10-0, C Brown 16-8-20-3, GW Walker 14.4-2-57-1.