Norfolk end Minor Counties season on high note with exciting victory
Norfolk’s Minor Counties Championship campaign drew to a close in thrilling fashion at Jesmond yesterday when they completed a nerve-jangling run chase in the final over.
Having looked set to be comfortable winners midway through the second day, the visitors found themselves having to chase 205 to win off a minimum of 43 overs and got home in the nick of time thanks largely to a superb unbeaten 104 from Sam Arthurton.
Norfolk lost six wickets in their pursuit of victory, but Ben Coote provided the necessary support in the closing stages as an unbroken stand of 48 saw them home with just four balls to spare.
Northumberland had resumed 11 runs in arrears on 206-4 and Jacques du Toit and Tom Cant added 89 more to take their fifth wicket partnership up to 176 before a much needed breakthrough.
Du Toit’s brilliant knock finally came to end when he was caught behind off the bowling off Chris Brown for 150, having hit 18 fours and five sixes - but his exit was merely the signal for more frustration for the visitors.
Cant and Sameet Brar took the score up to 354 by putting on 59 and 22 more runs followed before Cant finally went for 87.
Had the innings been wrapped up quickly then Norfolk would have been spared the late drama, but Sean Tindale and Bradley Yates knuckled down to take Northumberland’s score past 400 - a superb effort after being bowled out for just 86 in their first innings.
A total of 421 meant Norfolk had 205 to chase and following the early exit of opening day hero Jason Reynolds for 11, Arthurton and James Hale set about the task with relish, taking the score on to 97 before Hale was trapped lbw by Cant for 32.
It was then that the doubts returned, with Rob Taylor and Ben France making just three between them and young debutant Freddie Ruffell going for 11 to leave the hosts on 132-5.
When Ashley Watson was out for seven to make it 160-6 Norfolk really did have a tough task, especially as the required run rate was creeping up. But crucially Arthurton was still there and he found a willing accomplice in Coote (24 not out) as Norfolk ended a mixed three-day campaign on a real high note.