Walker sees bright future for Norfolk
Norfolk skipper George Walker believes the 2011 season could prove to be a valuable building block towards future success for the county.
Five players made their county debuts over the course of the season after the Norfolk committee opted to pick young talent ahead of imported players.
Walker, who confirmed he is happy to carry on as captain next season, feels the policy has gone some way to solving the perennial problem of unearthing bowling talent: 'Progress has been made,' he said. 'Kieron Bunting and Michael Warnes have come in and done well. Olly Stone played one game for us and obviously with his Northamptonshire commitments we don't know if we'll have him next year but it would be a big plus if we did.
'We want to improve again next year – we got some wins under our belt in the Championship and it would be good to build on that and have a better one-day campaign next season.'
Walker took over as captain in the winter but his reign suffered a disastrous start with four consecutive one-day defeats in the MCCA Knockout Trophy.
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When that winless run extended into the first three games of the Championship campaign, pressure appeared to be building on the new captain, but he insists it never crossed his mind to relinquish his position: 'As a captain you're judged on how the team performs and you are the focal point, a bit like a manager in football,' he said.
'You just have to crack on. I knew that we had a decent enough team and that we just needed a couple of key players to perform and that did happen in the end.
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'We started badly with the one-dayers – they come thick and fast so if you're not playing well, there's no hiding place. That can be a positive thing if you're playing well, but we were just not good enough and did not compete in a couple of the games.
'In the three-day games we got better and better. We were completely outplayed at Hertfordshire and had a poor game, but for five out of the six games we were competitive.'
One player who has had no worries with his form is Carl Rogers, who passed 10,000 career runs in the Championship during the final match at Slough, which ended in a draw when the last day was wiped out by rain on Tuesday. 'It's a cracking effort – that's a vast amount of runs,' said Walker of his predecessor as county captain. 'He's playing better than ever and although he's said he won't play the one-day games next season, if he's still scoring runs in the league I'm sure he'll be picked for the Championship games.'
By contrast Trevor Ward has not been as prolific as in previous years, with four half-centuries in all competitions and an overall average of 33.
Walker said: 'It probably looks worse because he has had so many quality years for Norfolk. He still averages just under 50 in his time with the county and when he's batted this year he looks a class act.
'He is still the prize wicket that the other counties want to get most.'
• Minor Counties Championship Eastern Division
• Batting (Qualification 4 innings)
CJ Rogers 5 matches, 556 runs, 55.60 average
JM Spelman 6 matches, 505 runs, 45.90 average
LW Caswell 5 matches, 251 runs, 41.83 average
TR Ward 6 matches, 270 runs, 27.00 average
SS Arthurton 3 matches, 127 runs, 25.40 average
MR Warnes 4 matches, 199 runs, 24.87 average
PA Lambert 4 matches, 150 runs, 21.42 average
MW Warnes 5 matches, 59 runs, 19.66 average
C Brown 6 matches, 100 runs, 12.50 average
GW Walker 6 matches, 84 runs, 12.00 average
MP Eccles 3 matches, 22 runs, 11.00 average
SK Gray 6 matches, 103 runs, 10.30 average
• Bowling (Qualification 5 wickets)
OP Stone 38 overs, 107 runs, 6 wickets, 17.83 average
C Brown 288.2 overs, 729 runs, 35 wickets, 20.82 average
MW Warnes 85.5 overs, 292 runs, 8 wickets, 36.5 average
GW Walker 214.2 overs, 716 runs, 19 wickets, 37.68 average
MP Eccles 80.3 overs, 345 runs, 9 wickets, 38.33 average