Cricket: Parsons reaps benefit

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .283 and 115-5

Worcestershire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .278

IT WAS Old Boys' day at Grace Road. Most of the former players who took a bow on the pavilion balcony seemed to be from the Fifties when Leicestershire were frequently not quite up to it. For much of the afternoon yesterday their successors endeavoured to make them feel completely at home.

They are third in the championship with a game in hand and a genuine chance of adding to their only title, won in 1975, but their play often lacked the resolve which makes true champions. Having said that, because of their later order they are still firmly in this match - a pretty essential difference between the Fifties side and this one - and they could yet win this match.

A lead of 235 on a pitch that the batsmen seem too inclined to distrust will give their bowlers, if they can stick to the basics of their job, a real opportunity.

For this, no thanks at all are due to their main batsmen. The side had done the hard bit in the morning, taking the remaining six Worcestershire wickets for 73 runs in 32.3 overs. If this was against the odds then so too has been most of Leicestershire's summer.

They were helped by some indifferent batting - mostly the urge to play strokes that were not on - but the way in which Gordon Parsons finished off the innings was determinedly professional. It looked as though Worcestershire might sneak a small but invaluable lead when Parsons sent back the last three men in nine balls.

He is Leicestershire's beneficiary this year and while he has not fulfilled the vast early promise of his youth he has more than compensated for that by sheer longevity and an enduring perseverance. This was his first five-wicket return of the summer.

The unexpectedly precious lead of five runs was swiftly wasted. Phil Simmons might have chosen a more opportune moment to register his first duck for the county after 36 innings, achieved in typical, swashbuckling style as he jabbed a wide one to gully.

Matters got worse as Tim Boon misjudged an unnecessary hook, James Whitaker was leg before offering no shot and Nigel Briers, another of the unsung ones having reached his 1,000 runs for the summer, was caught behind, perhaps undone by the bounce which is still variable.

The resistance was at hand and the Old Boys might at last have realised what the present fuss is about. Darren Maddy, on his debut after 1,363 second- team runs, played with commendable correctness, Paul Nixon with brutal assertion. Parsons, dropped twice, was there with the bat too, nudging and pushing effectively. Leicestershire are still in the hunt.