Day Two report: Staffordshire make up for lost time in push for victory

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Matthew Morris celebrates reaching his half-century against Buckinghamshire.

Staffordshire produced a dominant performance on the second day of their NCCA Championship game against Norfolk.

After the first day was lost because the umpires deemed conditions at Manor Park unfit after water got on to the wicket, Staffs made up for lost time to raise the prospect of still completing victory in the Division One East encounter.

Skipper James Kettleborough won a crucial toss and opted to field before watching his bowlers skittle Norfolk for 142.

Left-arm spinner Tom Brett helped himself to 5-65 from a marathon 30-over spell, while paceman Liam Hurt grabbed 3-18.

The baton was then passed on to Matthew Morris and Zen Malik. They both compiled half-centuries as Staffordshire reached 162-4 from 56 overs – a lead of 20.

The day could have been even better for Staffs but a flurry of wickets undid some of their good work.

It might take some special for Staffs return home with a win. But they have given themselves a chance of backing up their previous success in East Anglia at Suffolk.

Staffs had been left hugely frustrated by the decision to call off the first day’s play so early – when conditions could have been checked at a later time.

But they took out those frustrations on a Norfolk side who took a painstaking 75.1 overs to reach their total.

‘Instant response’

Staffordshire did bowl impressively, but there wasn’t too much positive intent from Norfolk on a wicket which did offer a little bit of assistance.

Staffs had certainly learnt their lessons from their defeat by Bucks at West Bromwich Dartmouth when they were guilty of failing
to bowl a consistent full length.

However, they remedied the situation in some style at Manor Park. They built up pressure on a home side who seemed happy to be bowled at.

Staffs made an early breakthrough when, with the score on five. Ethan Metcalf edged a Hurt delivery through to wicket keeper Callum Hawkins.

And the big wicket arrived with the score on 24 when Norfolk captain Sam Arthurton was pinned lbw for seven – a decision he didn’t really like.

‘Brett delivers again’

Hurt had made that double breakthrough before Brett entered the fray to enjoy another successful day at the Norfolk venue.

He had spun former county Bedfordshire to victory at Manor Park last season, taking 13 wickets in the match.

And he started his way to another five-wicket haul when he dismissed Ben Wilcox for 24. Wilcox attempted to sweep but the ball ballooned up and was grabbed by Morris.

And the home side then fell from 51-3 to 66-4. The experienced Tom New inexplicably missed a Brett full toss and was bowled for 18.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club spinner Tom Brett
Staffordshire County Cricket Club spinner Tom Brett took five wickets in Norfolk’s first innings. Picture: Alfie Shenton

And Staffordshire’s morning continued to get better. Hudson De Lucchi tamely chipped an Anis Raza to Hurt at short extra cover.

There was still time for a sixth wicket of the morning session, with the total on 85, was trapped lbw by Raza.

Norfolk too lunch on 90-6, although they couldn’t really find a way out of their predicament in the afternoon.

They slumped to 101-7 when William Bowman provided catching practice for Michael Hill at mid on to give Brett another scalp.

It was eight down just 12 runs later as Calum Metcalf got a leading edge to a Brett ball and was snapped up by Raza in the covers.

‘Fighting spirit’

There was a bit of late resistance as Charlie Rogers and Brett Stolworthy forged an alliance worth 29 runs for the ninth wicket.

Progress was slow but they were eventually parted. Hurt returned for another spell and rattled Stolworthy’s timbers for 14.

Rogers had shown plenty of discipline to make 19 off 101 balls, but he was the last wicket to fall when he was trapped lbw by Brett.

Staffordshire suffered an early setback in their reply when Kettleborough fell.

He had already been struck on the thumb before a delivery from Andy Hanby deflected off his glove and on to the stumps.

But Staffs soon settled into their work as Morris and Malik set about compiling a stand worth 112.

Both struck five fours in their respective knocks, while Malik added a sumptuous six as the partnership developed either side of the tea break.

‘Norfolk battle back’

However, the exit of Morris sparked a mini collapse from a Staffordshire perspective.

He had made 54 before he miscued a pull shot off Stolworthy. That presented Hanby with a comfortable catch at mid off.

Just one run later, Malik was a heading his way back to the pavilion for 60. He nicked a ball from Stolworthy to keeper New.

And it was three wickets for Stolworthy when he trapped Hawkins lbw for a duck.

Norfolk had enjoyed their most productive spell of the day at that point, but Hill and Nils Priestley saw them through to the close.

Hill will resume on 19 with Priestley on seven not out.

The odds would still favour a draw you’d imagine. But matters have gathered pace at Manor Park and a positive result isn’t out of the question.

Main image: Matthew Morris scored a half-century for Staffordshire on the second day against Norfolk. Picture: Alfie Shenton