Cricket / B & H Quarter-Finals: A fluctuation in fortunes for the Benjamins

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .205-9

Worcestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150

Leicestershire win by 55 runs

THE Graeme Hick alternative show, 82 runs studious by his standards from 122 balls on an obstinate pitch, turned into a Leicestershire win, confounding those who saw them briskly rolled over twice in the Championship match at Horsham last week.

Enigmatic Leicestershire they may be, but they do have a definite feel for the one-day game. As beaten NatWest Trophy finalists last September, they have something more to prove, under the benign influence of Nigel Briers, their trenchman, who fended off Worcestershire's henchmen.

The musketeerian attitude has carried Leicestershire through to the Benson and Hedges Cup semi-finals for the first time in eight years. They had beaten Warwickshire on scores level with fewer wickets lost in the previous round - when the odds were heavily against them. Blink and the competition, sadly shorn of the group system, has suddenly reached the last-four stage.

The pitch was miserly for batsmen. It offered the 'stopping' ball and others moving off the seam for the quickies, notably the Benjamins, Worcestershire's Ken, and Winston, his opposing namesake. The match ended with Ken caught at long-on by Winston, the Gold Award winner, bringing what might have seemed an unlikely win after Leicestershire had been 156 for 7 with three overs left. Winston Benjamin and Paul Nixon changed that with a stand of 36 from 13 balls, Benjamin making 20 from 6 balls including a six off Chris Tolley.

The last five overs produced 58 runs but the familiar groundwork of Briers with 58 from 104 balls prevented the caterers' catastrophe, an early finish. Ben Smith assisted Briers in the recovery partnership but it appeared to have arrived too late. Not so, Winston Benjamin, the West Indies fast bowler, dismissed Tim Curtis, caught at the wicket first ball, and Philip Weston in his second over. Batting misadventures became the theme and, at a tea-time 59 for 4 from 25 overs, Worcestershire's sympathy level was low.

The storm clouds had arrived, together with poor light, when their innings began. Damian D'Oliveira was leg before to Vince Wells, who took 4 for 37. Sundry struggles afflicted Stuart Lampitt, their second-highest scorer with 14, playing on to Alan Mulally, and Steve Rhodes, sacrificing his wicket when run out by the inevitable Winston Benjamin, as he nobly preserved Hick's.

Ken Benjamin had been suffering from a slight reaction to the knee operation which he underwent in the winter, so the Benjamins had something to remember and to forget.