Cricket: History made by Hawks

Leicestershire Foxes 152-7 Hampshire Hawks 17-2 Match abandoned

CRICKET HISTORY was made in the 32nd over of the match at Leicester yesterday. It was then that the Hawks, thanks to the over-stretching left- foot of John Stephenson, conceded the first no-ball of the CGU National League to the Foxes. Play, if not time, stopped while the import of this was digested.

Aftab Habib, the non- striking batsman, sauntered down the pitch to have a quick word with his partner, Dominic Williamson. You did not need a doctorate in lip-reading to know that he was saying: "Right, give this next ball some leather."

The next ball, because of the illegality of the one which preceded it, was the first free hit in English professional cricket. Whatever Williamson did he could not be dismissed unless he was run out. He stepped back and lashed it in the air past backward point. There, it eluded Matthew Keech and went for four.

Thus was the first example of the most significant innovation in the new league enacted. Williamson and Stephenson, of the Foxes and Hawks respectively, teams formerly known as Leicestershire and Hampshire, will appear in the records for all time, their names ineradicable because of the part they played.

That aside, there was not much to write home about in this initial fixture of the glorious new competition, which may or may not prove to be the cricketing equivalent of singing and dancing on the tables.

Perhaps this was because it was a grimly cold day, perhaps it was because it was not the most apposite of matches to be selected to inaugurate the new competition, perhaps it was because fewer than 1,000 of the Leicestershire public had bothered to turn up and many of those who did were queuing up at the face-painting stall.

There was also the small matter of a rugby match involving Leicester Tigers under a mile away. That drew a capacity crowd.

Or, just possibly, it was because the competition, if not necessarily the cricket played in it, is ill-conceived. The two-division league is the successor to the Sunday League, which had begun in 1969. By way of changes other than splitting it into two, matches are to be played over 45 overs.

This is a monstrous hybrid, possessing neither the hit and giggle virtues of the 40-over game or the slightly more serious but still potentially entertaining attributes of the 50-over contest, which has become accepted as the norm in most parts of the world.

The jazz and the razzmatazz are the things, the cricket is but a side show. Although Grace Road was bereft of them yesterday, all counties are to be encouraged to have theme tunes for individual players. And, apart from the face- painting, Sky Television were in town, to emphasise the importance of the occasion.

It is grossly unfair to draw too many conclusions after one match which did not run its full course. But it does not augur well that Grace Road was chosen as the venue for the first one. Lancashire, one-day kings, or Kent, at the beautiful St Lawrence ground, would have been more fitting choices. Both play today.

But at least the ECB is seen to be doing something, it seems to be aware that cricket cannot survive on its own considerable merits. Or can it?

Rain was all this auspicious fixture needed. Leicestershire's innings ended after 40 overs at 152 for 7, during which both Ben Smith and Darren Maddy batted attractively and athletically and allowed you to wonder why neither was given a proper opportunity in the England one-day side before the World Cup. Hampshire, needing 172 to win under the scoring method, were 17 for 2 when the festival ended prematurely.

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleThe idea has been greeted enthusiastically by the party's MPs
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game