Cricket: Middlesex held up by dogged Briers: Embury effort diminished by fielding

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Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .295-6


ANYONE who wonders if a year is a long time in county cricket should consult these sides. While Middlesex, the champions, are awaiting their first win, Leicestershire's four successes out of five constitutes their most successful post-war start and Nigel Briers, with a determined, grafting century, was hell-bent on consolidating it yesterday.

The going was never quite straightforward either for Briers who was battling against a heavy cold, or the others on a pitch which, though not as well grassed as it appeared to the distant eye, was slow and occasionally two-paced.

Middlesex quickly worked out their game-plan, which was to use their quicker bowlers at the more helpful end while John Emburey, conceding only 47 runs from his first 25 overs, did a fine job bottling up the other. It was a pity some of their out cricket fell short of these standards.

Middlesex not only bowled well but rattled through their overs with an old-fashioned briskness. Of their quicker bowlers, Richard Johnson, hitting the pitch hard from his 6ft 2in, caused as many problems as anyone and, at 19, looks a decidedly interesting prospect.

Briers was not going to squander a toss that may prove very important, although the indifferent support at the other end no doubt worried him. From the moment that Phil Simmons walked for an inside edge, one batsman after another got a start only to perish. The most crucial dismissal was Tim Boon's, at a time when he and Briers had achieved some fluency.