Thriller keeps hopes alive

Norfolk stand in skipper Carl Rogers inspired his troops to a thrilling MCCA knock out trophy six run win against Staffordshire at Leek yesterday.

Norfolk stand in skipper Carl Rogers inspired his troops to a thrilling MCCA knock out trophy six run win against Staffordshire at Leek yesterday.

Staffs were reeling 72 for eight in reply to Norfolk's 177 for eight but a belligerent 62 run ninth wicket stand put the hosts in sight of an improbably victory.

Rogers grabbed the ball with Staffs needing eight off the last over and promptly castled Staffs talisman Sam Seadon to seal victory - Norfolk's captain in the absence of injured Paul Bradshaw wheeling away in celebration.

Norfolk's nail biting win left them level on five points at the top of Group Two alongside neighbours Suffolk.

Rogers' men need Suffolk and Lincolnshire to slip up in their final matches to clinch a semi-final spot after finishing their pool fixtures on a high.

“Suffolk must be favourites now,” admitted Rogers. “Even if it rains in their last game I don't think that would save us. I just look back to the game we had against Lincs when we posted 260 and got beat - that was a real shame. If it doesn't end up going for us in this competition we can still take a lot of confidence into the championship. If we get Bradders fit and the main bowlers firing we have a good chance.”

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Rogers conceded Norfolk had almost self destructed after bossing their final group game. “I thought the writing was on the wall,” he said. “I wouldn't have enjoyed that drive home if we had lost. At 80 for eight we thought the game was won. I don't think we bowled particularly badly. Their lad got in and struck it as well as anybody. We probably bowled too much length rather than get it in the block hole. I didn't mind bowling that last one. Browny had bowled out and I felt the best way to go might be to take the pace off it. The track definitely got a bit easier in the final couple of hours.”

Norfolk's pace unit sliced through the Staffs top order - Michael Eccles set the tone with two rip-snorters in his opening burst.

Eccles and Ian Slegg ratched up the pressure with a miserly ball spell that restricted the hosts to just 24 off their first ten overs.

Staffs skipper Richard Harvey launched Chris Brown back over his head to try and loosen the strangle hold.

Young debutant Bud Bailey checked the mini fight back when he trapped Peter Wilshaw. Chris Borrett removed middle order wild card Mo Sheikh - pinning the right hander back in his crease before a shorter pitch delivery sent his bales into orbit.

Swardeston giant Bailey uprooted Staffs captain Harvey's off stumped to leave the hosts reeling on 48 for five.

Brown bamboozled David Womble before running out Paul Goodwin. Rogers brought back Eccles and Bailey to polish off the tail but Seadon and Craig Barker relished the pace onslaught - Seadon smacking Bailey over the rope to bring up the 50 partnership.

Slegg made the vital breakthrough to remove Barker but Seadon's sublime extra cover drive brought up his half century before Rogers worked his magic at the death.

“All the bowlers chipped in,” said Rogers. “Michael bowled well and Sleggy was tight with the new ball. Bud did well on his debut. They got after him in his second spell but he can only learn from those situations. To be honest I thought 177 might be 20 or 30 light. It's not many to chase but we got early wickets and if you do that you have always got a chance.”

Trevor Ward and James Spelman's 78 run third wicket partnership had earlier laid the platform for Norfolk's winning total.