Cricket: Whitaker raises Leicester spirits

Henry Blofeld reports from Trent Bridge Notts 324 and 196 Leicestershire 439 and 82-4 Leics win by six wickets
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Although there was a reassuring thoroughness about Leicestershire's victory here, they made heavier work than they should have done in scoring the 82 they needed for the victory that took them to the top of the Championship table. Not for the first time this year it was James Whitaker's cool head that steadied things.

Leicestershire, like Derbyshire, are trying to win what would be only their second Championship title, their first being in 1975 under Ray Illingworth. It has been an outstanding achievement for a side which may have lacked star quality but in which every member has played his part.

Indicative of this is the fact that, even with Alan Mullally playing for England, they have used only 13 players in the competition this year. Great credit must go to Whitaker, their new captain, who has thrived on the responsibility, although one must spare a thought for his long-serving and selfless predecessor, Nigel Briers, who was so cruelly prevented by injury from playing a final season under Whitaker.

It did not take David Millns long at the start to take the two remaining Nottinghamshire wickets. Chris Tolley was lbw pushing half forward and Mark Bowen was bowled trying to play him to leg. Millns finished with the excellent figures of 5 for 31 from 18.1 overs.

On this still good pitch, such a small target should not have caused Leicestershire any problems. Yet they batted as if they had only to go through the motions to wrap it up, and most of them seemed to have only half a mind on the job. In the third over Darren Maddy drove at Bowen who held a return catch near his right ear.

Soon afterwards, Ben Smith drove at a wide one from Bowen without any footwork and was caught at second slip. Third to go was Vince Wells, lbw pushing at Bowen, and after a fierce sweep earlier in the over, Phil Simmons tried to work Richard Bates to leg and was leg before.

But Whitaker, who bats these days with an authoritative composure, used his feet to drive Bates over mid-on and in conversations between overs he ensured that Greg Macmillan did nothing silly. Together they saw Leicestershire home 10 minutes before lunch.

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