Cricket: Lynch pins down Leicestershire

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Leicestershire 216 and 104-3

Surrey 218

SURREY needed one of Monte Lynch's trademark hundreds, a curious amalgam of sleepiness and sudden unexpected violence, to hold their own against fine and tireless bowling by Alan Mullally and Gordon Parsons for Leicestershire at The Oval yesterday.

The 33-year-old Parsons had the figures, a Championship best 6 for 70, but the 6ft 3in Mullally, a sharpish left-arm-over seamer, aged 23, reared in Australia but Southend-born, might have been the one who caught the eye of Micky Stewart, England's team manager. All he had to show for it was 4 for 56, but they came from the top six in the order, among them Alec Stewart.

Leicestershire have slipped from second to fifth since David Millns twisted an ankle while they were beating Essex in the Championship three weeks ago, since when they have not won. Yesterday, though, their two wicket-takers bowled well enough to suggest they might still threaten if Millns returns this week, as they are hoping.

For half an hour in the morning, omens were not good. Then an edge for the first time went to hand, and Atkins was caught by Potter at first slip off a kindly rebound from his neighbour, Whitaker. When Stewart, drawn to Mullally's angle, was caught by a diving wicketkeeper 15 minutes later, Leicestershire's luck had turned. Then Parsons had the satisfaction of ending Boiling's nightwatchman's stint with a vengeful bouncer, diffidently fended to short-leg.

From 44 for 4, Thorpe and Lynch put the innings on its feet, adding 55 in 80 minutes, but it was the impressive bowling at both ends which deserved better than it got. Mullally had 2 for 15 in eight overs; the pear-shaped Parsons, unflaggingly holding the pavilion end for 105 minutes, 1 for 29 off 13.

Nigel Briers could have had problems had Thorpe settled in again, Leicestershire's attack after the openers being shallower than a bird bath. Four overs into the afternoon, however, Thorpe nibbled at Mullally and was caught by his oppo, now at second slip.

Lynch, impartially beating cover to right and left with staccato back-foot clumps, nothing moving but the bat, reached 50 with nine fours off 86 balls. Then Brown and Bicknell departed in successive overs, and Surrey were in strife again at 145 for 7.

Lynch, receiving only 18 balls in eight overs, was pegged to 50 for nearly half an hour. But he was going well again, with 71, by the time Parsons won a front-foot lbw against Kendrick, stirring himself out of his normal catlike torpor to pull Hepworth for one six, and complete his hundred with another, explosively driven over Parsons's outraged head into the pavilion. But Parsons had the last word, when Lynch ambled down the pitch to drive, missed, and kept on walking.

Twenty wickets had fallen for 434 when Leicestershire's second innings started. But the departure of Briers to a low legside catch by Stewart, Briers saving umpire Dudleston what might have been a difficult decision by giving himself out, did nothing to dispel the feeling that the traditional third- day run-chase would eventually develop. Despite a blameless- looking pitch and perfect light, though, runs had to be worked for, Whitaker surviving sharp chances at five and 10 to Boiling in the gulley off Bicknell, and Lynch at short-extra off Kendrick, before the bat began to get on top.