Cricket: Maddening time for Maddy

Leicestershire 44-1 v Sussex
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The Independent Online
THE THREE balls that Darren Maddy faced in the one over possible in the day summed up perfectly the Leicestershire opener's luck so far in the Championship, and the subsequent departure for rain typified the county's season. Sussex's James Kirtley had just had a single stolen off his first ball to Maddy's opening partner Vince Wells. His first delivery to Maddy was a beauty which beat the batsman, wobbling in the air before leaving him off the pitch.

The next was too wide of the off stump to worry anyone. Maddy finally put bat to ball at the third attempt, but unfortunately not enough of it, and he edged the outswinger straight to the wicketkeeper Shaun Humphries. Maddy departed for 15, followed two balls later by everyone else as rain set in.

Even before yesterday's loss of 103 overs, Leicestershire had lost 1,143 to the weather this season. Last year the total was 2,260, compared with 659 when they won the Championship in 1996 and 717 the year before. Such breaks in play affect batsmen's concentration and Maddy is having a dreadful time in the Championship, perplexing when you consider what he has been doing in one-day cricket. It was his form in the Benson & Hedges Cup that earned him his England call for the Texaco Trophy series against South Africa.

"It's ironic really," said Maddy. "Before the start of this season I was regarded primarily as a four-day player. This season, though, the tables have been turned." That is probably because Maddy has been shifting the furniture himself. The way he has been batting in the B&H Cup he could move mountains. He has certainly piled up the runs in helping take Leicestershire into the final. He has smashed the record aggregate of runs in a season, amassing 624 in seven outings at an average of 156. That includes three hundreds, top score 151. "I cannot say that I have been in bad form. I've not been in long enough to find that out."

His time will surely come, because even before his two Texaco appearances Maddy had been earmarked for a possible opening slot in the First Test against South Africa. His run of low scores in the Championship put paid to that. "I would have been disappointed in the selectors if they had picked me," Maddy said. "I want to play for England when I am at my best and my highest score at that point was 24. I think there is a right time and that wasn't mine."

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