Leicestershire lose high ground

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The Independent Online

Leicestershire and Yorkshire have had their problems this season and in a way they were typified by events here yesterday.

Leicestershire and Yorkshire have had their problems this season and in a way they were typified by events here yesterday.

One Leicestershire batsman after another managed to get out after laying the foundations for a big innings and Yorkshire's below-strength attack delivered more poor balls than you would expect from them in a week.

Only the pitch was blameless. It was so good that Tony Brown, one of the England and Wales Cricket Board's pitch liaison officers, jokingly remarked that it was probably worth an extra eight points. In theory, therefore, it should produce a contest that goes the distance.

If so, Leicestershire may bitterly regret not taking the high ground in a more determined manner in their first innings.

The ball did little off the seam and swung only modestly. A massive total followed by a profitable workout for their two spin bowlers seemed to be the scenario for them.

It never happened. Some credit is due to Yorkshire's quicker bowlers who, after a highly undistinguished salvo with the new ball, managed more consistency later and thus obtained their rewards.

Amazingly, as they sprayed the new ball about, Chris Silverwood and Gavin Hamilton were not taken apart. Maybe that was because Darren Maddy and Iain Sutcliffe were themselves not in the best of form; maybe, too, they just could not reach a high proportion of what was on offer.

Sutcliffe perished down the leg side and when Ben Smith nicked Gary Fellows' perfectly pitched out-swinger it had all the makings of being one of those days for Leicestershire. But Maddy and Aftab Habib, with their exemplary techniques, gradually showed what was possible in these conditions.

Maddy has had a strangely unproductive season for one so gifted. Perhaps because of this he tended to pull his punches a little, as if feeling his way. Habib, though, timed everything more or less perfectly from the start. When he reached 50 from only 87 balls by hoisting Ian Fisher for six over long-on, Yorkshire looked in for a torrid afternoon.

But Silverwood, short of rhythm earlier and no doubt still concerned about his inflamed left knee, cut them both down in a better second spell just when they were beginning to inject their partnership with growing menace. They had added 108 when Maddy received a good one which bounced and left him. Habib was starting to do much as he pleased when he was caught at slip.

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