Cricket: Smith keeps title-chasers in hunt

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 190-6 v Warwickshire

THE RAIN, which came in two parts, allowed a meagre ration of 48 overs here and Warwickshire will have been happier with the outcome than the Championship aspirants, Leicestershire. A pitch which allowed a certain amount of lateral movement saw the Warwickshire seamers pick up six wickets against some not especially distinguished batting.

The manner of the dismissals did little to suggest that Leicestershire have a chance of winning the title, not that the Warwickshire bowling was that impressive either, as Ben Smith showed. In a delightful innings, he took full advantage of all the many long-hops that came his way to reach his 50 from 61 balls with nine fours, most of them from square cuts, and was 82 not out at the close.

Smith is one of several players in a list, which must be topped by Ed Giddins, to harbour at any rate a mild grievance that he has not been selected for any of the touring parties announced in sepulchral tones yesterday morning by David Graveney. Smith has had an excellent second part of the season and is a tiger in the field too.

On cricketing grounds, Giddins has every reason to feel hard done by and he showed his character at Edgbaston by not allowing the sad news to affect him. He bowled 10 overs straight off, took Darren Maddy's wicket for 27 runs and might have had a couple more. In the sixth over, Vince Wells played back, followed a short one from Dougie Brown and was caught behind. Iain Sutcliffe might have been caught at short leg when he first came in but then produced a flurry of delightful fours as he square cut and drove. The score was 21 when Maddy shuffled across his stumps to Giddins and departed lbw when the ball cut back.

It had progressed to 47 when Sutcliffe turned a ball from Tim Munton off his hip without taking the precaution of keeping it down and was well caught at backward short leg. Six runs later, Phil Simmons who must have been thinking about something else, played forward to a very wide one from Munton and was caught behind.

Smith and Aftab Habib now got in on the square-cutting and pulling stakes before Habib went back and steered Brown to first slip as if he was giving catching practice. It then rained again leaving time for only nine more overs in which Paul Nixon edged Munton low to Nick Knight at second slip.

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