Win or bust for Norfolk in final MCCA Knockout Trophy clash
Norfolk captain George Walker believes victory over Wiltshire at Manor Park today could be enough to seal a place in the quarter-finals of the MCCA Knockout Trophy.
Walker's team have seen their first three Trophy fixtures cancelled by the weather, the latest being yesterday's match against Lincolnshire at Woodhall Spa, which was called off on Friday. Today's match is their final Group Two fixture, but victory, along with the three points accrued from the abandoned games, could be enough to send Norfolk into the last eight.
'If we win, we finish on five points and although Wiltshire would still have a game to play, the most they could get then would be four points, so that would be one team knocked out from our point of view,' said Walker.
'It could be happy days if we win on Monday, but of course if it is rained off it will be even more annoying because the other teams still have games to play over the next two weekends.'
With the forecast looking mixed, Walker is pinning his hopes in the effective drainage at Manor Park: 'The ground at Woodhall Spa was far too wet and the pitch was actually under water,' he said. 'But if it stays dry, Horsford drains quite quickly so we could get a game in.
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'We'll all be taking our wet weather gear to the game so that we can get the covers on and off quickly and hopefully we'll at least get a 10-over match.'
With rain ruining the start of the season, left-arm spinner Walker admits he is feeling the frustration: 'It is unbelievable,' he said, 'I've never known a start to the season like it. I think I've bowled about 11 overs so far this year, whereas normally it would be about 111.
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'After the winter we had I thought we were going to be in for a really good summer, but it seems to have saved all the rain up and dropped it on us in the last couple of weeks.'
Norfolk have a squad of 12 to choose from, with Horsford all-rounder Luke Caswell added to the team which was due to face Lincolnshire yesterday.
Vauxhall Mallards batsman Ali Shearer, if selected, will be making his one-day debut for the county, as Harry Bush is in university action.
It will be the first meeting between the two sides since the Trophy final in 2005. On that occasion, Norfolk won by six wickets at Slough after the original match at Lord's was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Today's Norfolk team contains four players who played in that final – James Spelman, Paul Bradshaw, Chris Brown and Martin Addison – while none of the current Wiltshire team were on duty at Slough.
Walker added: 'I don't think I've ever played against them and Chris Brown (Norfolk player/coach) only recognises one or two of the names, so they will be an unknown quantity to us, as I'm sure we will be to them.'
Norfolk (from): SK Gray (w/k), JM Spelman, SS Arthurton, TR Ward, PA Lambert, AE Shearer, OP Stone, GW Walker (capt), C Brown, PJ Bradshaw, MA Addison. LW Caswell.
Wiltshire (from): ER Kilbee, JR Levitt (capt), HJ Langford, RD Underdown, SFG Bullen (w/k), TB Bowler, A Morrison, OJ Alsop, BJ Gardner, TG Afridi, MR Bhatt, PJ Robins.