Cricket: Seamer Oram puts his oar in

Nottinghamshire 342 and 182 Leicestershire 267 and 217-9 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
Leicestershire took tea yesterday needing another 158 off a minimum of 32 overs for their third Championship victory of the season, but four wickets in four overs immediately on the resumption swung the game in Nottinghamshire's favour.

Iain Sutcliffe was the first to go, adjudged lbw off the bowling of Nathan Astle. He had been batting with great composure, generally pushing quick singles in his support of the more expansive Vince Wells.

Andy Oram, 22, and playing in only his third first-class match then took three quick wickets. James Whitaker spliced an attempted pull shot to mid-on before both Vince Wells and Ben Smith edged behind off consecutive deliveries. Wells had played some imperious pull shots in his innings of 59, but fell trying to guide Oram down to third man. Smith then flashed hard at his first ball and Graham Archer completed a quite brilliant one- handed catch at second slip leaping high and to his right.

This left Leicestershire reeling on 119 for 6 and Nottinghamshire were now confident of victory. The left-handers Neil Johnson and Paul Nixon steadied the innings, accumulating runs as Nottinghamshire pressed for another wicket with attacking fields. But just as the game was looking more evenly poised, with Leicestershire needing 115 off 22 overs, Johnson was bowled by Astle. Nottinghamshire were again in the ascendant, but David Millns and Nixon defended stoutly.

Yet with the game heading for a draw they almost presented Nottinghamshire the victory with some naive cricket. Sixty were needed off five overs and Nixon inexplicably attempted to flick Friday's hat-trick hero, Chris Tolley, over mid-wicket. He managed only to loft the ball to mid-on.

Caution was required to save the game but, with 13 balls left Millns followed Nixon by launching an ambitious drive only to be bowled leg stump. With 46 runs needed Millns was obviously suffering from delusions of grandeur.

James Ormond, 19, and Alan Mullally kept the tension high but survived, although Ormond was lucky not to be run out stealing a quick single to keep the strike. He played out the last over with aplomb.

Nottinghamshire are proving to be a resilient side , but they sorely missed Paul Franks in this second innings. His ripped toe-nail deprived them of a promising bowler and, if he had been fit, they would almost certainly have won. Luck, however, plays a large role in any game and Leicestershire could have felt aggrieved that rain reduced this final day by 28 overs. This season they have lost more than 1,500 overs to bad weather and the rain meant they needed to be more aggressive after lunch, which affected their batting.

In the morning, Darren Maddy was caught behind off a Mark Bowen leg-cutter and nightwatchman Adrian Pierson was the victim of a grubber. The re-laid pitch deteriorated over the four days and all the batsmen were suitably mistrustful of the inconsistent bounce . Some balls scuttled through shin high, while others occasionally reared past the batsman at chest height. But the pitch was less culpable than the weather and the final hour's cricket by Leicestershire for the near victory by Nottinghamshire.

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