Cricket: Major defeat for the Minors

Leicestershire 382-6 Minor Counties 126 Leicestershire win by 256 runs
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Leicestershire 382-6 Minor Counties 126 Leicestershire win by 256 runs

THE Minor Counties suspected they would be in for some serious leather- hunting here yesterday, given the current form of Darren Maddy and Leicestershire's need to pep up their run rate to try to ensure a place in the quarter- finals of the Benson & Hedges Cup.

They were not disappointed. Maddy obliged by making 151 from 125 balls, Leicestershire's 382 for six was the second highest total in the competition's history and the Minors themselves embarrassed their hosts by blitzing some erratic bowling before subsiding to the second-heaviest defeat the competition has known.

It all left Leicestershire with a healthy new run rate of 23.32. Their fate still depends on what happens in today's games, but they will not have much of a future anyway if their opening bowlers, David Millns and Alan Mullally are as profligate with the new ball as they were here.

Earlier this week Leicestershire bowled 53 wides, a Cup record. That was due in part to this pair operating, for reasons known best to themselves, at the wrong ends. There was no such excuse this time and David Ward, a fine player of fast bowling in his Surrey days, showed his talents had not diminished by taking 18 off Millns' opening over.

Eventually Vince Wells, moving the ball around at accurate medium pace, restored some order and emerged with six for 25. The Minors will be highly disappointed at slumping from 85 for 1 to 126 all out, especially after keeping their heads very well in the field.

They did not enjoy too much rub of the green. Maddy, for instance, might well on another day have been caught off a leading edge at 13. But after that he was awesome, both in the power and the variety of his strokes. He hit three sixes and 19 fours.

On this pitch there was no margin of error for part-time bowlers. But amid the carnage, Cumberland's Marcus Sharp conceded only 29 runs from 10 overs, before Maddy, making his last 50 from only 27 balls, Jonathan Dakin (44 from 29 balls) and Chris Lewis (55 from 30 balls) emphasised that it was a batsman's day.