Cricket: Millns makes the right noises

Leicestershire 389 & 291-6dec Warwickshire 276 & 331 Leics won by 73 runs
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The Independent Online
IT TOOK Leicestershire longer than they would have liked to beat Warwickshire and go the top of the Championship table for the first time this season. Although they picked up 24 points they certainly did not bowl like potential champions yesterday.

Leicestershire have been a most unassuming and efficient side and have simply got on with the job of winning. They have been fortunate only to have lost Alan Mullally to the Test side and then only towards the end of the summer. Indeed he was released early before the start of the Sri Lanka Test in order that he would not miss a Championship match.

They have been unlucky in that their captain, James Whitaker, has been out all season with his injured knee. Chris Lewis has made a rather unlikely deputy but has done the job well until his dreadful sense of punctuality got him into trouble last week and the job has passed on to Phil Simmons.

They have got a more than useful batting line-up with Darren Maddy and Vince Wells starting off and Iain Sutcliffe, Ben Smith and Aftab Habib making a formidable middle order while Simmons has latterly recovered from a poor start.

The bowling is the most suspect part of their equation. Their only two compelling spells were produced by Lewis at the start of Warwickshire's first innings and by David Millns early in the second. Otherwise, there were far too many bad balls and, considering the circumstances, something strangely unconvincing about their performance in the field.

Three difficult chances went down and Simmons' captaincy seemed to be without zest or purpose. The game was allowed to drift and after Millns' first 10 overs, it was as if the bowlers were turning their arms over while waiting for the batsman to get themselves out.

As it happened, Millns' first spell, in which he took three wickets in nine balls, was decisive. But first, at 53, Nick Knight, as he so often does, played at Lewis with his bat away from his body and was caught at second slip. Then, at 87, Mark Wagh, whose 60 had contained 10 fours, drove the last ball of an over from Millns and his off stump went cartwheeling.

Anurag Singh played half-forward to the first ball of the next over which bounced more than he expected, and he was caught at first slip. In Millns' next over, Brian Lara was lbw, playing no stroke for the second time in the match at one which must have cut back on to him .

Warwickshire were 93 for 4, but the bowling fell away, although David Hemp was fortunate when he was yorked by Alan Mullally to find that it was a no-ball. He and Dougie Brown took full advantage of all the friendly offerings they received and put on 88 in 14 overs before Brown tried to carve Millns through the offside and was caught deep in the gully.

Hemp reached 100 when he pulled Mullally for his 18th four but two runs later he played forward to a wide one from Simmons and was caught behind.

After that, Neil Smith and Keith Piper went merrily on but before tea Smith was bowled playing across Mullally and Ashley Giles forced Lewis to gully.

Warwickshire were 299 for 8 at the interval and it took Leicestershire 11 more overs to remove Tim Munton and Ed Giddins.

The Leicestershire players greeted the uprooting of Giddins' middle stump with a great cheer and if they do not win the Championship, they would certainly win the prize for the noisiest side in the field.


Leicestershire (244pts)

9 Sept: Essex (Leicester). 17 Sept: Surrey (The Oval).

Surrey (239)

9 Sept: Durham (Chester-le-Street). 17 Sept: Leicestershire (The Oval).

Lancashire (236)

11 Sept: Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge). 17 Sept: Hampshire (Old Trafford).

Gloucestershire (223)

9 Sept: Middlesex (Lord's). 17 Sept: Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge).

Yorkshire (223)

9 Sept: Warwickshire (Headingley). 17 Sept: Sussex (Hove).