Cricket: Ormond glows but rain slows Leicestershire

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JAMES ORMOND, Leicestershire's 21-year-old fast bowler, claimed the eighth five-wicket haul of his career yesterday as rain again badly affected the defending county champions' match with Warwickshire at Grace Road.

After Saturday's complete washout only 20.5 overs of play were possible on the third day, making the game a near certainty to end in a draw.

Ormond took four wickets in a 10-over spell before lunch to finish with 5 for 108 as Warwickshire were bowled out for 306. Leicestershire faced two deliveries in reply before heavy rain ended the day's play. They did, however, manage to lose a wicket.

Ormond, who was awarded his county cap during the lunch interval, is now Leicestershire's leading wicket-taker this season with a total of 38. Having made his county debut four years ago, the five wickets also took him to a total of 103 in 26 matches for Leicestershire. Despite being affected by injury problems over the four years, he is regarded as one of the brightest young fast bowling prospects on the county circuit - and this was the third time this season he has taken five wickets in an innings.

Warwickshire, who resumed on 214 for 4, scored 92 runs for the loss of their last six wickets in the morning. One of Ormond's victims was Dominic Ostler, who finished as Warwickshire's top scorer with an 87 that included 11 fours. It was the first time he had gone past 50 for nearly two years. Michael Kasprowicz, the Australian pace bowler, took the other two wickets to finish with 3 for 72.

There was then a two-and-a-half-hour rain delay before Leicestershire began their reply in mid-afternoon. But Ed Giddins' second delivery saw Darren Stevens caught at second slip by Nick Knight, before heavy rain ended the day's play.

The Northamptonshire captain Matthew Hayden's hopes of signing off for the season with a National League victory were dashed by the weather at Northampton. Hayden will join up with Australia's Test squad at a training camp in Brisbane next week before their tour to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and was set to lead his county for the last time this summer in the Second Division contest against Derbyshire. But torrential rain meant the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled which does Northamptonshire's hopes of securing promotion no good.

John Crawley, the Lancashire captain yesterday paid tribute to Muttiah Muralitharan after the Sri Lankan spun the county to another Championship victory on Saturday. The off-spinner ripped through Derbyshire who were bowled out for 135 as Lancashire wrapped up a convincing win before stumps on the third day.

Muralitharan goes home this week to prepare for the Test series against Australia but he returns to Old Trafford next year. He has taken 66 Championship wickets this summer and Crawley said: "It's simply amazing. I don't think there's been anyone as prolific in recent years. He's done a terrific job for us, he's just outstanding, really. He's happy to bowl all innings from one end and there have been times in the last few games when you couldn't get the ball off him."