Cricket: Bold Bailey bridges gap

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Leicestershire 352 and 123-3

Northamptonshire 303-7 dec

WHEN Rob Bailey makes a hundred, which this season has not been very often, it is usually a big one. His unbeaten 167 yesterday was not exactly a flawless affair but it was strong on application and commonsense and it got Northamptonshire out of a spot of bother and enabled Allan Lamb to declare 49 behind.

This left him with either Plan A, which was to try to bowl out Leicestershire a second time or Plan B, to sit back and then go for any fourth-innings target in pursuit of the victory that will seal at least third place in the Championship for Northamptonshire.

The loss of Nigel Briers, who gave himself out for a bat and pad catch, followed by a couple of other hiccups, hinted briefly at Plan A, but Tim Boon's authoritative innings suggested it will have to be Plan B after all.

Bailey's innings, begun when wickets were falling all around him, was built around that formidable defensive stroke which takes him further down the pitch than most; but he missed little that could be whipped off his legs and if circumstances never permitted him to become devil-may-care, the half-volley or near half-volley was persuaded through the covers.

With Winston Benjamin absent ill, the going was not as torrid as on the previous evening, but Alan Mullally located a fuller length than he had with the new ball and at 10 Kevin Curran ought to have been caught at slip off him.

By the time Leicestershire saw the back of Curran, 164 had been added for the fifth wicket. They also put down Bailey at slip off David Millns when he was 17 short of his century and one could only marvel that all the Leicestershire bowlers were happy to operate, expensively, without a third man.

The ball sometimes turned slowly for Leicestershire's makeshift spinner Laurie Potter, who picked up a couple of wickets. This was a reminder that their manager, Jack Birkenshaw, is seeking an experienced slow bowler capable of picking up 70 wickets in next year's four-day Championship programme and has begun exploratory talks with Eddie Hemmings, released by Nottinghamshire.

Northants' Allan Lamb has been ordered to appear before the Test and County Cricket Board's disciplinary committee on 23 September after his unauthorised ball-doctoring allegations.