Cricket: Leicestershire fold as Walsh weighs in with another five

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .350-4 dec and 143-2 dec

Leicestershire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .167-3 dec and 224

Gloucestershire win by 102 runs

THEIR Championship challenge having been rendered meaningless, if not quite pointless here, Leicestershire can now concentrate on salvaging self-respect and some cash from the remainder of their season.

The reward for runners-up spot behind Warwickshire is pounds 24,250. To achieve it, though, Leicestershire will need more than the solitary point they picked up in this disappointing defeat.

They will also need to show more steel - which Jack Birkenshaw, the manager, will no doubt be injecting during the next four years of his new contract - when faced with a realistic target such as the 327 runs in 72 overs they were presented with by Courtney Walsh yesterday.

Declaration cricket led to that target. Leicestershire called a halt at their overnight score, leaving James Whitaker unbeaten on 81.

The crowd were then treated to some rapid scoring by Tony Wright, who contributed 39 to the 53-run opening stand in the first five overs. Dean Hodgson and Bobby Dawson then saw Gloucestershire to 143 for 2 in the second innings shortly before lunch.

The target was eminently get- able until you added the Walsh factor to the equation. He has been a constant source of trouble to batsmen throughout the summer and has certainly instilled some self-belief in his side. He will be missed next season when touring over here as West Indies captain.

Walsh has raised Gloucestershire up from 17th place last season to around mid-table in the Championship this year and has achieved it while doing what he has always done best - bowling fast and taking wickets, 88 to date to leave him as leading wicket-taker in the final run-in.

Seven of those wickets came in this match and yesterday's 5 for 47, his ninth five-wicket haul of the summer, was crucial.

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