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.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable