Cricket: Leicestershire reach out for the title

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: Simmons inspires the leaders to an emphatic two-day triumph
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The Independent Online
Durham 126 and 139 Leicestershire 516 for 6 dec Leicestershire win by an innings and 251 runs

Leicestershire trampled all over Durham for the second day running and the 24 points they have picked up in two hectic days has left them wonderfully placed to win their second Championship.

Yesterday Phil Simmons and Paul Nixon massively re-wrote the record book as they took their sixth-wicket stand to 284, and after that it was Durham's feeble batting all over again.

An overwhelming victory over Durham in their present plight is not a valid indication of invincibility - yet Leicestershire have done all that they needed to and will go into next Thursday's final round of matches (they play Middlesex at Grace Road) knowing that they are the side to be caught.

Simmons followed his figures of 6 for 14 in Durham's first innings with a most handsome knock of 173, but Leicestershire's success this season has been very much a team effort. In Durham's second innings, for example, Simmons did not bowl and Vince Wells and Alan Mullally took nine wickets between them.

Simmons has been in and out of the West Indies side for some time without ever showing the consistency to command a regular place, but a succession of West Indian captains have been keen to have him in the side and he is such a good team man. This aspect has also been most important to Leicestershire.

Durham's bowling was not in the strictest sense competitive, but Simmons' strokeplay was powerful, precise, elegant and a delight. He drove massively through the covers, he square cut with a withering decisiveness and he played the ball away to leg off his pads with lovely timing like the felicitous giant that he is.

Paul Nixon also batted well in his precise, left-handed way. He has nice wrists, an upright style, good timing and a pleasant range of strokes. His 103 not out came from 170 balls, while Simmons' 173 came from 171.

They put on 284 in 52 overs, breaking Leicestershire's previous sixth- wicket record of 262 by A T Sharpe and G H S Fouke against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1911. Simmons' 173, which included 23 fours and two sixes, was the highest individual score to have been made at the Riverside and Leicestershire's 516 for 5 declared the highest total.

Durham's second innings began as ineptly as it was to continue. Sherwin Campbell played a scything square cut at David Millns' second ball and was caught behind. This was Campbell's final innings for Durham at the Riverside, where his highest score this year has been 39. Unsurprisingly the modest crowd forbore to clap him into the pavilion.

Stuart Hutton was second to go, lbw playing back to one from Wells which kept low. David Ligertwood pushed half forward to Wells and was lbw and John Morris drove Wells to short extra cover and has now scored 405 runs for Durham in 26 innings this year.

Mike Roseberry and James Daley put on 41 and made a third day seem just a possibility. But after Roseberry had gone, caught behind hooking, the innings folded and there were nine overs of the second day left when Mullally yorked 17-year-old Stephen Harmison.