Ward century sets up fascinating final day

An intriguing second day's play at Horsford ended with the Minor Counties Championship match against Hertfordshire delicately poised

An intriguing second day's play at Horsford ended with the Minor Counties Championship match against Hertfordshire delicately poised

Norfolk were all out in the final over of their 90 for 292 to establish a first innings lead of 117. But Hertfordshire fought back in the latter stages of the day with David Ward scoring an unbeaten century as they closed on 209 for four in their second innings - 93 in front.

Overnight rain and early morning drizzle combined to prevent a prompt start, but Manor Park's efficient ground staff did their usual superb job and, with play getting underway at 11.30am, there were no overs deducted from the day's allocation.

Beginning 20 runs adrift of the Herts first innings total of 175, Norfolk were looking to establish a sizeable lead as well as taking maximum batting points. They were to achieve the former target but were foiled in the latter, being bowled out for 292.

Trevor Ward hit one huge six before being bowled by Ben Frazer for 21. But James Spelman dropped anchor while Chris Borrett set about the bowling from the other end, scoring a whirlwind half century from just 32 deliveries.

Three balls after getting to 50, however, Borrett went for one big hit too many and was caught at mid-on by Steven Cordingley off Frazer.

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From that point on, although the scoring rate remained healthy, none of the Norfolk batsmen was able to dominate.

Spelman's patient innings was eventually ended on 30 when he became one of off-spinner Frazer's seven victims in a marathon spell of 42 overs from the Norwich end of the ground.

Double figure contributions followed from Chris Brown, George Walker and Ian Slegg. Norfolk would have been disappointed not to have further pressed home their advantage.

Frazer's figures of seven-for-142 represented the best-ever return by an opposition bowler against Norfolk at Manor Park.

With their 117 lead, Norfolk were keen to get at the Hertfordshire batsmen second time around.

The opening pair of Cordingley and Lamb looked to be in little trouble against Slegg and Michael Eccles and had already reduced the deficit by 25 when heavy and persistent drizzle forced the players from the field just before 3pm.

The rain break was to last around an hour and a quarter and meant a an 8pm finish. The stoppage, though, worked to Norfolk's advantage when Lamb was caught at short leg by Matt Wilkinson off Brown for 19 almost immediately after the resumption.

Slow left arm spinner Walker removed Coringley for 11 and Andy Lewis for 14 to leave Hertfordshire still over 60 behind with three wickets down.

But Ward, so often a thorn in Norfolk's side over the years, took centre stage for the remainder of the day. He shared in a partnership of 71 for the fourth wicket with David Hughes, putting the visitors in front before his partner was bowled by Slegg for 26.

And the ex-Surrey batsman then frustratingly saw out the day in an unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 77 with Aaron Laraman.

Along the way Ward completed his 20th Hertfordshire century, hitting nine fours and a six as he finished unbeaten on 108 - with an interesting final day guaranteed.