Cricket: Ugly Leicestershire

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire . . . . . . . . .268 and 226-2

Leicestershire . . . . . . . . . . . .160

THE good, but especially, the bad and the ugly filtered through Leicestershire's batting at the Rutland ground yesterday as a reminder that their Championship challenge is becoming more theoretical by the day.

Several Leicestershire players complained of feeling light-headed - perhaps through their unfamiliar lofty second in the table position. They were later entitled to be footsore as well after John Morris made a delightful hundred off 80 balls, with 14 fours and four sixes and Kim Barnett scored another with considerable authority.

Their partnership of 180, opening a lead of 334, was more substantial than Leicestershire's entire first innings, a melancholy statistic, especially for Nigel Briers, their worthy captain.

Briers had carried his bat for 73, the first Leicestershire player to do so against Derbyshire since Les Berry at Chesterfield in 1939, but even his innings was far from perfect. It would still have been admired by C J B Wood, the Leicestershire opener who achieved the feat an astonishing 17 times between 1898 and 1913.

When Derbyshire were 133 for 7 at lunch, Briers was in effect 62 for 3. He had been dropped in the slips on 10, 14 and 44, twice by Chris Adams and once by Peter Bowler. Derbyshire's best hope of sending Briers back to the pavilion was 'retired deaf', such were the roaring leg-before appeals and the 'oohs' and 'ahhs' when catches were spilled.

A slow pitch was the natural habitat for vigilant batsmen and medium-pace bowlers, a watertight theory until Morris, a player who can upset most calculations, plundered his second 50 off 21 balls.

The piece of paradise on which Derbyshire later batted had resembled a terror track when Leicestershire wielded the willow. Frank Griffith, a graduate of Haringey cricket college, who scored a career-best 48 on the first day, returned another with 4 for 33 by swinging the ball and exploiting rough edges of Leicestershire bats.

In Justin Benson's case, it was more like the bottom as he slogged a catch to mid-off. Benson later became an emergency wicketkeeper when Paul Nixon suffered suspected knee cartilage trouble, just a week before the NatWest Trophy semi-final against Essex. He hopes to play and will have treatment today. David Millns will be fit after the diagnosis that he has not suffered a stress fracture of an ankle.

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