The Northants Bowling Federation county teams made a winning start to their inter-county championship campaigns in Norfolk on Saturday which more than compensated for the horrendous holiday traffic problems they encountered en route to Holt and Norwich.
The Adams team, under new captain Peter Brown, swept to a 184-127 victory and a 19 points return, while the Newton squad, with non-playing captain Cliff Watson in charge for the first time, returned home with 16 points from a narrow 160-153 win.
Despite forced into making several late changes from the original selection, which included an eleventh hour call-up for county president Tony Mace after an absence of several years, Northants produced a strong showing at Holt to underline their strength in depth.
Mace certainly revelled in his county comeback as he helped Roger Stevens and Rod Maplethorpe to a runaway 39-12 win, a winning deficit equalled by Paul Dalliday, Stephen Harris and Lee Welsford, who stormed home 42-15.
With newcomer Wayne Morris, Paul Bailey and Jonathan Earl all square at 30 ends, Morris drew a perfect shot to secure as 24-23 victory, while Martin Welsford, with debutant Jack Corney and deputy president Dick Noble, snatched a 29-29 draw with two shots on the last end.
Peter Brown played a captain’s role alongside Whittlesey Manor clubmates Steve Lander and Steve Roden to win 32-20, and there was no disgrace in John Holroyd, Tony Belson and Graham Agger losing by 10 shots on a tricky outside rink.
On the outskirts of Norwich, the Newton team quickly recovered from the vagaries of the journey to lead 60-46 after ten ends, but as the strong wind took effect and the pace of the green quickened, Norfolk pegged them back and with only a handful of ends to play the lead was down to 11.
However, Paul Buckley’s rink of Jim Ruddy and the recalled Jeff Clipston finished with a 10 shots win, and despite defeats for rinks skipped by Peter Jessop, Barry Lawrence and Brian Bassam, wins for Mick Duell and Roger Martin were enough to sway the result in Northants’ favour, the latter’s rink of Peter Cox and Michael Humphreys taking the individual honours with a 30-19 success.
With North Cambs only able to raise one team, only the Adams team will be in action on Saturday when they entertain their local rivals at Whittlesey Manor.
Northants 184 (19), Norfolk 127 (3) – (Northants rinks only):
Roger Stevens, Tony Mace, Rod Maplethorpe won 39-12.
Jack Corney, Dick Noble, Martin Welsford drew 29-29.
John Holroyd, Tony Belson, Graham Agger lost 17-27.
Paul Dalliday, Stephen Harris, Lee Welsford won 42-15.
Wayne Morris, Paul Bailey, Jonathan Earl won 24-23.
Steve Lander, Steve Roden, Peter Brown won 32-20.
Northants 160 (16), Norfolk 153 (6) – (Northants rinks only):
Jeff Clipston, Jim Ruddy, Paul Buckley won 31-21.
Graham Jackson, Mick Greaves, Brian Bassam lost 26-29.
Peter Cox, Michael Humphreys, Roger Martin won 34-19.
Fred Addy, Tony Kemp, Barry Lawrence lost 21-29.
Les Sharp, Malcolm Squires, Mick Duell won 29-25.
Darren Middleton, Bob Warters, Peter Jessop lost 19-30.
n Rita Mace hosts her Northants Women’s Bowling Federation President’s Day at Whittlesey Manor this Sunday afternoon.