Title-chasers are forced to dig deep

ROLLESBY maintained their lead at the top of Norfolk Division One with five matches left after a thrilling two-wicket win at lowly Hales and Loddon A.

With regular skipper Duxbury missing, Rollesby vice-captain Sparkes won the toss and fielding first with a green wicket underfoot.

The veteran opening pair of Dave Cook and Chris Alger gave very little away with Cook getting some lovely away swing, assisted by a strong cross-wind, and Alger looking sharp and also swinging the ball.

Rollesby broke through int he fifth over as Alger found the edge of Read’s bat for a duck, Chaney taking the catch behind the stumps.

Nunn and Pugh came on to exploit the conditions. Nunn got plenty of swing, but anything off line went to the boundary as Milton Lindsay looked in good touch for the home side. Pugh bowled with good pace and passed the edge on several occasions.

With 20 overs gone H&L had rebuilt to 49 for one and Rollesby turned to slow bowler Flett who struck with his second delivery, Weston (10) finding Nunn at mid-on.

Youngster Read, 13, immediately looked very comfortable. After surviving an early chance at slip off Sparkes, he pushed the total along until dismissed for 36 by Flett who also bowled Lindsay (42) with some sharp spin. H&L were 143 for four and with five overs to go. Alger and Cook showed their prowess at death bowling. Alger started the collapse with three wickets in his eleventh over. The last six wickets fell in just 20 balls with H&L making only 148. Cook took 2-13 and Alger an impressive 5-33.

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Rollesby response got off to a bright start with P Cook and Baker finding early boundaries. P Cook (8) went at point to a excellent low catch off Weston. Baker (10) was cleaned up next over with a jaffa from Rolph.

Chaney and Alger took their time in seeing off the new ball bowlers then got stuck into the change bowlers with Ingram in particular taking some punishment. With the partnership flourishing, rain began to set in. Credit went to both sides, in particular the fielding team, as conditions became wet, dark and unpleasant. H&L hopes of victory grew as the introduction of Read saw the departure of Chaney (36) in the young man’s first over. Four overs later he also dismissed Alger (35). A once comfortable 94 for two had become 116 for five and conditions were not easy for new batsmen.

The experienced Browning and Cook took on the challenge run by run and their partnership of 25 took Rollesby towards the finishing line. Browning (9) was bowled by Jones, but with Cook still there after 38 overs the scores were level. Looking to hit the winning runs Cook (15) struck returning Rolph straight to mid-wicket, and when Nunn (1) fell to Jones the following over panic had begun to set in as Rollesby were 148 for eight and the field was set in tight. Pugh broke through the in-field in the 42nd over to complete the win for Rollesby.

Fleggburgh King’s Arms Men of the Match: Jason Browning and David Cook.