Cricket: Prosperity for Pierson

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 455

Lancashire 204 and 193

Leics win by innings and 58 runs

THIS HAS been a perplexing match for Lancashire, who have all the components necessary in a Championship team but can sometimes look complete duffers. After two straight wins it seemed their challenge was developing a useful head of steam, and no one expects to be derailed at Leicester these days. Yet throughout this contest they have been a clear second-best, and defeat by an innings and 58 runs was no worse a fate than their performance merited.

Having allowed Leicestershire to recover from 215 for 7 to 455, they batted so dismally in reply, when the pitch was at its most benign, that the follow-on threshold never seemed likely to be crossed. Asked to bat again, 251 behind, the Red Rose wilted more miserably still.

The occasional aberration is excusable and Lancashire, who reached Saturday's Benson and Hedges final with a crushing victory here last month, will be advised not to dwell on this result. However, their tendency to self-destruct must undermine their confidence.

In no individual is this at present more manifest than Neil Fairbrother, the captain, who earned the unhappy distinction of a pair when he attempted an ill-advised sweep to his first ball, from the off-spinner Adrian Pierson.

This, however, was merely symptomatic of a more general malaise as Lancashire contrived to get out by all manner of means on a pitch that offered a handy degree of purchase for the Leicestershire slow bowlers.

Pierson, formerly of Warwickshire and enjoying a revival of fortunes since Leicestershire rescued him from Minor Counties cricket last winter, returned his best figures for his new county, and Lancashire were spared deeper embarrassment only by an aggressive 75 off 82 balls by Graham Lloyd.

In the morning, Winston Benjamin accounted for the remaining Lancashire first-innings wickets, giving the West Indian his best figures in Championship cricket.