Cricket: Briers exudes solidity

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 219 v Nottinghamshire

AS MENTALLY strong batsmen go, Nigel Briers has few superiors, in the estimation of Tim Boon, his long-standing opening partner. Briers made 53 to prove the point in four and a quarter hours off 215 balls, and Leicestershire just managed a batting point yesterday.

Otherwise, curtains could have been drawn across the innings, such was Leicestershire's instability, with their last eight wickets tumbling for 86 runs in 53 overs.

Batsmen have to value their wickets in the four-day game. Briers did, as usual, on a desperately slow pitch, but with the game's familiar perversity, was run out when called by Laurie Potter for a single to Derek Randall at extra cover. A direct hit confirmed that Randall's faculties are undiminished at the age of 42, especially as he later ran out Gordon Parsons.

Boon was dismissed cutting too thinly, after a distinctly brisk 46 from 83 balls, one of two reaction catches at first slip by Paul Pollard.

From 133 for 2, Leicestershire subsided. Chris Cairns, the New Zealander, running in hard and bowling briskly, compensated for Chris Lewis nursing a slight groin strain. According to Mike Hendrick, the Nottinghamshire team manager, it will not affect his Texaco Trophy availability for England in a fortnight.

Cairns had James Whitaker, Leicestershire's beneficiary this summer, caught at cover point by the diving Mark Crawley. Ben Smith was bowled without offering a stroke to a delivery which darted back and then Cairns ousted Adrian Pierson with the second new ball.

David Millns, the England A bowler, had been a crutch-reliant spectator following an Achilles tendon operation the previous day, which will enforce his absence for at least six weeks. Leicestershire needed support too, despite Nottinghamshire's attack being more persevering than penetrative. Andy Afford twirled away economically while Potter atoned for running out Briers with a bolstering innings.