Cricket: Foxes in a chase up table

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 181-3 v Notts

STEALTH is the weapon of the fox and Leicestershire have given a fair impression of their adopted emblem by creeping up on Warwickshire and Surrey, the Championship leaders.

Placed third, 22 points behind top of the table Warwickshire and with a game in hand, they have technically the easiest run-in. They have matches at Grace Road against Worcestershire (16th), Hampshire (15th) and Sussex (5th), together with away matches against Glamorgan (bottom) and Gloucestershire (8th), as well as Lancashire (10th).

They suffered not so much from the weather yesterday, though 40 overs were lost. The slowness of the pitch and outfield made attrition the theme, despite an unbroken half-century partnership between Phil Simmons and Nigel Briers from only 15 overs in the first 58 minutes.

Simmons launched into Andy Afford with a back-foot cover drive and cut to the boundary in his first over before being dismissed, caught and bowled off a leading edge, a victim of the pitch, when aiming towards mid-on.

Simmons made a half-century from 85 balls, compared with that of Briers from 156. The loss of 25 overs through rain, soon after the previous break for lunch, surely disturbed Briers' concentration. He played too soon and edged Greg Mike into his leg stump.

Leicestershire know that Nottinghamshire are vulnerable. After three consecutive first-class defeats, two in the Championship and another by the South Africans, they look ripe for plunder.

Despite being seventh in the table, their season has been mixed, with the probability that Mathew Dowman, the prolific under-19 batsman, and James Hindson, a Yorkshire- born, left-arm spinner, might be given opportunities.

Nottinghamshire's end-of- season decline in recent years has been a growing irritant. They sorely need to bat and bowl well in this match, not only to deny Leicestershire their first Championship win at Trent Bridge for 17 years but also to regain self-esteem. It has been damaged not only by injuries but also by that inevitable bottom line, poor form.