Cricket: Dream time for Briers and Boon

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire 232-9 dec and forfeit

Leicestershire forfeit and 234-1

Leicestershire win by 9 wickets

NOSTALGIA buffs had a wonderful time here yesterday when Leicestershire overcame two left-arm spinners on an old-fashioned rain-affected pitch to defeat Worcestershire by nine wickets.

Skipper Nigel Briers (122 not out) and his henchman Tim Boon (97) both played innings that each will probably happily insert somewhere in his personal top 10 in putting on 213 together, enabling Leicestershire to make the 223 they needed with 46 balls to spare.

It was, as you might guess, a salutory experience for Worcestershire's two spin bowlers, Richard Illingworth and the vastly less-experienced Richard Stemp. They were, no doubt, expected to bowl their side to victory but had miserable luck early on and, perhaps as a result, never established any rhythm and tended to produce at least one loose ball an over.

The key to it all was a pitch which had been swamped under its covers by Tuesday's storm. With the intervening day lost to the weather, both sides waited suspiciously to see how it would play before discussing forfeitures and a fourth-innings target.

If the sun had shone, there really would have been fun and games and negotiations might not have been needed. As it was, under low cloud even Laurie Potter got the ball to turn and lift and Worcestershire were down to their last pair before Briers scampered off to negotiate with Tim Curtis.

There followed the ludicrous sight of Winston Benjamin declining a straightforward catch to allow Worcestershire to bat on to their appointed target which, curiously, turned out not to be 240 or 230 but 233, such are the keen mathematical minds of modern captains.

With only one slip posted, Briers and Boon both refused to let the spinners dominate. Their foot work was superb and no half-volley or long hop, of which there were too many for Worcestershire's liking, escaped its just desserts. The morale of both spinners was not helped by a number of other near things, the most glaring of which was a comfortable chance which allowed Briers to escape at 66.

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