Watson holds his nerve as Norfolk win a derby classic against rivals Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
Number nine Ashley Watson smashed 14 runs off the final over to hand Norfolk a thrilling derby victory at Manor Park.
The tailender held his nerve to hit successive fours and a six to help the hosts squeeze past Suffolk's total of 202 and keep their hopes of progressing in the Unicorns Knockout Trophy. It was the in-form visitors first defeat of the term – they have already qualified for the quarter-finals – and Norfolk's match-winner admits his side's victory was priceless as they look to join their rivals in the last eight.
Watson, who also took three wickets, said: 'I didn't think I was going to get out to bat. I thought Bushy (Harry Bush) and Parky (Gary Park) were going to see us through. Luckily I got to go in.
'Browny (Chris Brown), said to me: 'Where's your scoring shots?' and I said 'well, slog-sweeping' and three out of the four came off. We were the last batsmen, Mikey (Michael Eccles) can hold a bat, but we knew it was down to us. I just thought, 'right where's my scoring shots?' and that's how I'm going to play the spinner.
'This is my first year playing one-dayers for Norfolk. Last year I wanted to play but I spent most of my time out in Afghanistan. So it's quite good to come in, take a 'three-fer,' get 18 not out, and score the winning runs with the six. It was a massively important win for us. Obviously, we've still got to go to Hertfordshire next week and beat them, then we're straight in at home in the quarters.'
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Watson took the prized scalp of England Test batsman Joe Root's brother William (Billy) but it was fine knocks from captain Justin Bishop (56), Simon Guy (37) and Tom Rash (47 not out) which helped the away side set a decent target.
The hosts seemed to be well on their way to victory thanks to a fine partnership of 80 between Park (42) and Bush (51) but the pair were removed within the space of six runs and their side suffered a mini-wobble. Callum Taylor and Stephen Gray went for single figures leaving Brown and Watson to try and chase down the runs.
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Norfolk still needed 13 off the last over to win. Chris Swallow, who during his previous nine overs had taken three wickets for 52 runs, was the man tasked with ensuring his troops came out on the right side of a thrilling finale. But it wasn't to be as Watson found the boundary three times – with two balls to spare – to spark scenes of joy between him and Brown in the middle
Norfolk's delighted captain said of the nerve-jangling two-wicket triumph: 'It was a must-win game. They're a good side Suffolk. They've won all three group games quite comfortably and I can't fault the lads one bit.
'Ashley Watson at the end showed his nerve and we got over the line. I only faced a couple of balls myself but we knew he (Watson) had to really go against Swallow in the last over and he said his option was to sweep and sweep-slog, and he did it ever so well.
'Gary and Harry set us on the way. Them two played well, they played the spin well, and they just looked to manipulate the ball into the gaps. It was a good partnership. And the bowling and the fielding unit was really good. To restrict them to that score was a good effort. All of the bowlers that bowled, bowled the right channels, to the right plans, to the right field-set, so I couldn't fault that – it was superb.
'There is a belief of where we can get better too. I think good sides have to do that. You've got to look where you can improve. But as I said, the bowling and fielding effort was first class, really good, there was a good partnership with Park and Bush, then we stuttered a little bit and the rate probably got too high, but Ashley came in at the end and showed how valuable he is coming in at number nine in the order.'
Norfolk v Suffolk
Unicorns Trophy: Sunday, August 18
T Huggins lbw b M Eccles 4
J Bishop lbw b C Brown 56
W Root c B France b A Watson 14
M Comber lbw b A Watson 0
C Estlea lbw b A Watson 1
S Rees st S Gray b H Bush 16
S Guy b H Bush 37
T Rash not out 47
C Swallow c J Spelman b B France 7
J Ellis-Grewal not out 5
R Stockdale did not bat
Extras lb0 w13 nb2 15
Total 8 wkts (50 overs) 202
F-o-w: 1-18, 2-37, 3-44, 4-51, 5-81, 6-118, 7-153, 8-183
Bowling: M Eccles 8-0-28-1, B France 7-0-37-1, A Watson 10-2-27-3, C Brown 10-1-21-1, J Spelman 4-0-22-0, H Bush 9-0-55-2, G Park 2-0-12-0
J Spelman c T Huggins b J Bishop 8
P Lambert c W Root b J Bishop 17
S Arthurton c S Guy b C Estlea 21
B France lbw b J Ellis-Grewal 21
G Park lbw b T Huggins 42
H Bush c M Comber b C Swallow 51
C Taylor c J Ellis-Grewal b C Swallow 5
S Gray c S Rees b C Swallow 4
A Watson not out 18
C Brown not out 2
M Eccles did not bat
Extras lb0 w13 nb2 15
Total 8 wkts (49.4 overs) 204
F-o-w: 1-22, 2-30, 3-66, 4-89, 5-169, 6-175, 7-184, 8-184
Bowling: J Bishop 10-3-40-2, T Huggins 10-0-44-1, J Ellis-Grewal 10-0-30-1, C Estlea 10-1-23-1, C Swallow 9.4-0-66-3