Ward's hundred hiatus banished to distant past

Northants 159 and 257 Leicestershire 185 and 233-1 Leics win by 9 wickets
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The Independent Online

After suffering the pain of four years without a century during the leanest time of his career, Trevor Ward has not had to wait long for another. Having reacquainted himself two weeks ago with how it feels to see a third digit on the scoreboard, the Leicestershire opener advertised the elixir that is confidence by making an unbeaten 160 here yesterday, guiding his side to victory in an unforeseen cruise.

Needing 232, Leicestershire advanced from five without loss overnight to a nine-wicket win by 10 minutes to three, their rapid and largely untroubled progress making the events of last Wednesday, when 20 wickets fell, appear to have belonged to another match.

Ward, as it happens, was one of only a handful of batsmen on either side who had looked remotely in control against the swinging ball during that exhibition of flawed technique. Yesterday, on a placid pitch and with nothing in the atmosphere to ease the burden on Northamptonshire's toiling bowlers, the contrast could not have been much more pronounced.

Hitting 28 fours to go with a six pulled over the trees into Milligan Road off Lesroy Weekes, the 33-year-old right-hander reproduced all the destructive qualities that were once his hallmark as a Kent batsman and took away any hopes Northamptonshire might have nurtured of leapfrogging Leicestershire at the bottom of the First Division.

Unflustered by a couple of escapes ­ he was dropped at square leg at 30 and slip at 50 ­ he reached 102 off 127 balls as Leicestershire, wary of the threat of storms, rattled along at more than a run a minute but still had another gear, scoring the next 58 off just 45 deliveries, with 46 in boundaries. A further half-chance to square leg hardly detracted from the awesome quality on display.

In fact, Ward's tally for the season now stands at 436 runs in six visits to the crease, translating to an average of 87.2. After the misery of the last few seasons, culminating in a meagre 110 runs from 10 innings in his first year at Grace Road and banishment to the second XI until 30 May, he is an unrecognisable player.

"It just proves what people say about batting being 90 per cent in the head," Ward said. "I'm doing nothing different from before technically but I'm now feeling good and seeing the ball well. Scoring a century and ninety-odd against Somerset two weeks ago made me feel I was back where I wanted to be."

Iain Sutcliffe, caught at slip to a careless stroke off the back foot, was probably disappointed not to see the job through himself, but with Ward in charge the outcome was never in doubt.

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