Cricket: Munton forces the surrender

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Warwickshire 433-7 dec

Leicestershire 169 & 140

Warwicks win by innings & 124 runs

LEICESTERSHIRE'S bowling problems are such that they have already asked Jonathan Agnew and Les Taylor to consider stepping out of retirement, and on current evidence they might be considering a request for Maurice Hallam and Micky Norman to come and open the batting.

After Warwickshire's 433 for 7 declared, Leicestershire lost 13 wickets in two and a half sessions on Saturday, and in around 80 minutes of similarly spineless batting here yesterday, they were hustled to defeat by an innings and 124 runs.

Leicestershire remain in second place, but it will be a surprise to most people (themselves included, most probably) if they see any of this season's top four prize- money, and Warwickshire represent a far more potent threat to Essex's hopes of retaining their Championship pennant. Last year's runners-up are now in third place, 31 points behind Essex, both having played 15 games.

Leicestershire, who required a liberal helping of jaw-jutting resolve when they resumed at 60 for 4 in their second innings yesterday, came up instead with resistance of the candy floss variety, and were blown away by a career-best performance from Tim Munton.

Munton took the first five wickets yesterday to give him innings figures of 7 for 64, and his first ever 12-wicket match return for 110 runs. His analysis was belatedly dented by Martyn Gidley, who hit him for a four and a six as Leicestershire's last pair swung the bat more by way of surrender than defiance.

Laurie Potter, the only Leicestershire batsman to offer more than token resistance on Saturday, was palpably lbw to a ball that kept unkindly low in Munton's opening over, and Munton then took two wickets in consecutive balls - either side of a five- minute break for rain - in his second over. Nigel Briers, the captain, was bowled off stump to one that nipped back, and Paul Nixon's limp prod produced an edge to Andy Moles in the slips.

The worst shot of all was played by Winston Benjamin, who had retired ill on Saturday, and although he managed to struggle out of bed yesterday morning, the wandering flick across the line that cost him his middle stump bore the stamp of someone who was still mentally inside his pyjamas.

That gave Munton four wickets in 15 balls, and three overs later he had Gordon Parsons smartly taken at second slip by Allan Donald.

The pitch was docile enough for Donald to bowl off six paces, but he was still sharp enough to strike Gidley a painful blow on the shoulder, and Leicestershire's No 11, Alan Mullally, was some distance away from his stumps when Donald finished it with a straight one.