Cricket: Millns leads the late mayhem: Mike Carey reports from Leicester

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 352; Northamptonshire 75-4

A PENETRATIVE spell of new-ball bowling by David Millns at Grace Road, supported by excellent catching, underlined yesterday exactly what his five-match absence through injury had cost Leicestershire in their role as Championship dark horses.

With doubts over Millns' readiness, Leicestershire may well have felt that their slender resources could be stretched to breaking point over four days against a side of Northamptonshire's strength and depth, so they were probably quietly relieved when rain sliced 69 overs out of the action.

Among other things, this meant that once Winston Benjamin's vigorous 71 had hoisted Leicestershire to 352, Millns and his partners could cut loose for an awkward 22-over final session without thoughts of conserving themselves for a second spell.

Millns bowled Mal Loye off an inside edge and, after a handful of resounding back-foot strokes, Alan Fordham was well held by Benjamin at slip.

All this took place on a relaid pitch which, by offering a hint of bounce to bowlers who bent their backs, probably did not displease the Leicestershire hierarchy; and their day was almost complete when Nigel Briers, at cover, launched himself to catch Allan Lamb, left-handed, off Millns.

Not much happened at the other end but Benjamin, summoning considerable hostility from a short run, had David Capel caught at slip from a part of his bat or anatomy remote enough for the batsman to await confirmation that he was actually out.

Coming after a performance in the field where the ball had regularly flown through the slips or failed to stick in grasping hands, this probably completed Northamptonshire's frustration; but Rob Bailey staunchly held things together - though he too had his share of problems, notably when a bat-and-pad chance off Millns flew close to short-leg, and then when Benjamin rapped him painfully on the hand.