Waiting game for Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 10:40 23 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:21 06 July 2010
Norfolk were left playing a game of patience yesterday as Staffordshire doggedly refused to succumb to spin for a second time at Manor Park. Having collapsed to Norfolk's slow bowling duo Chris Brown and George Walker in their first innings, Staffordshire were more cautious second time around and they reached the close of day two on 201 for four, a lead of 105.
Norfolk were left playing a game of patience yesterday as Staffordshire doggedly refused to succumb to spin for a second time at Manor Park.
Having collapsed to Norfolk's slow bowling duo Chris Brown and George Walker in their first innings, Staffordshire were more cautious second time around and they reached the close of day two on 201 for four, a lead of 105.
Earlier, James Spelman had helped Norfolk gain a first innings advantage of 96 with his third championship century, an innings packed full of deft touches and elegant strokeplay.
“It was my first hundred at Manor Park, so it was really pleasing,” said Spelman. “It was hard work batting and you have to give the Staffordshire guys credit, they bowled very well and made it difficult for us.
“We were probably 20 or 30 short of the total we were hoping for, but to get that lead put us on top and we are in the box seat at the moment.
“The first hour is going to be vital in the morning. If we can get a couple of early wickets there's a chance we could run through them and chase 170 or 180. If they guts it out like they did in the last session they could really fight back, but hopefully we can get some early wickets and get into the tail.”
Resuming on 135 for one, Norfolk stuttered with the loss of two wickets in the seventh over of the day, bowled by Will Purser. Nightwatchman Chris Brown lofted a drive into the off-side where Russell Ballard, back-pedalling, took an excellent catch. Then skipper Carl Rogers could only fend a brute of a delivery into the hands of Peter Wilshaw at slip, leaving Norfolk on 152 for three.
Trevor Ward started circumspectly but was into his stride with a flicked four off Purser and when Ballard's spin was introduced, the Norfolk professional immediately went on the attack. He hit Ballard's first three balls for four, but Ward's determination to dominate proved his undoing as, on 29, he top edged a slog sweep and was caught by Liam Hughes on the midwicket boundary.
Chris Borrett chipped tamely to mid-on with the score on 220, but Spelman continued to make serene progress and he reached his century in the 79th over of the innings with a sweep off Ballard.
Spelman looked untroubled by the spinners, so it came as a surprise when he was trapped in front by Gareth Morris just before lunch.
The final 10 overs of the Norfolk innings yielded only 39 runs, for the loss of Jonathan Trower, Ben Harvey and Michael Eccles as the hosts closed on 279 for nine from their 90 overs.
Opening bowlers Eccles and Aaron Watson beat the bat occasionally, but after 14 overs without a breakthrough, Rogers turned to his spinning armoury.
Brown beat Wilshaw with his first ball and had an lbw appeal rejected with his second, before the opener chipped the third delivery back to the bowler, who took a diving catch.
Jimmy Dawson spent 10 overs trying to get off the mark before he finally swept Brown for four - and to the next delivery he was caught by sub fielder Sam Arthurton at gully to make it 80 for two at tea.
Brown took his match tally to nine wickets early in the evening session as Alex Hughes, who had made a confident 68, popped a catch to short leg and Ben McGuire was caught and bowled.
But from 113 for four - and just 17 runs ahead - Staffs dug in, with former England Test batsman Kim Barnett proving particularly obdurate.
His defensive wall remained unbreached and when Rogers reverted to seam after 53 overs from the spin twins, the runs flowed more freely. Barnett and Liam Hughes both posted half-centuries before the close as Staffs built a healthy lead to set up an intriguing final day, with all results possible.
t Staffordshire First Innings: 183 (KJ Barnett 51, C Brown 5-54)
t Norfolk First Innings (Overnight 135-1)
JM Spelman lbw Morris 104
C Brown c Ballard b Purser 10
CJ Rogers c Wilsaw b Purser 0
TR Ward c LD Hughes b Ballard 29
CR Borrett c Purser b Ballard 5
J Trower c Goodwin b Ballard 11
GW Walker not out 14
BL Harvey c Wilshaw b Ballard 11
MP Eccles b Morris 4
AA Watson not out 2
Total (9 wkts, 90 overs) 279
Bowling: WRJ Purser 20-5-59-2, GR Willott 20-4-50-0, BT McGuire 4-0-29-0, LD Hughes 5-0-28-0, GD Morris 21-1-65-2, RK Ballard 20-5-42-5.
Fall: 1-132, 2-149, 3-152, 4-208, 5-220, 6-240, 7-242, 8-266, 9-273.
t Staffordshire Second Innings
PJ Wilshaw c-b Brown 19
AL Hughes c Spelman b Brown 68
JAW Dawson c sub (S S Arthurton) b Brown 4
KJ Barnett not out 52
BT McGuire c-b Brown 0
LD Hughes not out 55
Total (4 wkts, 74 overs) 201
Bowling: MP Eccles 10-3-38-0, AA Watson 8-0-35-0, GW Walker 26-6-63-0, CR Borrett 2-0-8-0, C Brown 28-7-54-4.
Fall: 1-46, 2-74, 3-109, 4-113.