Cricket: Millns leaves Essex all at sea

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The Independent Online
Essex 218 and 195

Leicestershire 462

Leics win by innings and 49 runs

LEICESTERSHIRE cannot be an entirely happy ship - when the captain and vice-captain are unable to hold a regular place in the Sunday side, frank words must pass across the mess-room table - but in general they are making smooth sailing of the Championship voyage. Heavy defeats by Middlesex and Surrey have been weathered, and in the past three days they have steered back towards a winning course.

Their seam attack, when fully fit, is a match for any in the country. As David Millns proved yesterday morning, he has the pace and strength to punch frightening lift from a flat Grace Road pitch.

Add to this Championship- best batting by Gordon Parsons (70) and the wicketkeeper Paul Nixon (115), following a typically joyous 86 by Phil Simmons, and the result was total dominance.

Yet Essex had arrived here disputing third place in the Championship table. They came, however without five of their first-choice players. Muneeb Diwanwas drafted into the middle order on the back of reports of heavy scoring in the Second XI. But he can only reflect ruefully on the leap necessary to make the first grade - the debutant collected a pair.

As play commenced on a muggy morning, Essex needed 235 to make Leicester bat again. Parsons was Millns's pavilion- end opening partner and knocked the first brick from the tottering Essex wall when Jonathan Lewis drove a thick edge low to Simmons at gulley. Millns built up to thunderous pace, and Nadeem Shahid gloved a brutal climber that was on him too quickly to escape. After Diwan's exit, Nasser Hussain chipped Parson to mid-on and the lunchtime finish seemed on.

Ronnie Irani had other ideas. Admittedly, he enjoys applying the maxim that 'if you must flash, flash hard'. But this brought him a dozen boundaries in his defiant 64. His only partnership of consequence, though, was with Mike Garnham, always a belligerent player and even more so at his former home ground.

The game was extended beyond its sell-by date by a bizarre cameo from John Childs, who brought the technique of the village green to Leicester's all-conquering bowlers, annoying them mightily.

But at 2.35, Leicester, for the weekend at least, moved into second place in the table.

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