Explosive Millns assumes command

Leicestershire 353 Hampshire 81-7
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While the leaders Derbyshire are enjoying a match off, smirking at their rivals' scurrying in and out of the rain, Leicestershire were putting a damp, green square to good use after losing the whole of the second day. When yesterday's fourth heavy shower fell at tea, Hampshire were facing the follow-on.

If the weather relents for the Bank Holiday, the Running Fox could be ahead of the pack again. A delay of 50 minutes was followed by two more breaks for heavy rain, keeping David Millns refreshed and leaving Hampshire's batsmen looking un-nerved by his lift and pace and unable to settle in to the innings.

Millns, next to Devon Malcolm, is the fastest Englishman and a very good case could have been made for his opening the England bowling with Andrew Caddick at the Oval. He was altogether too quick and ferocious for all but Robin Smith here.

Leicestershire needed only five overs to ensure maximum batting points - in a season when the title could be decided by bonus points - showing in that short spell how their confidence brings luck. With seven runs needed for 350, Paul Nixon, the man who could have guaranteed them, fell to the third ball.

Two runs later, Matthew Brimson, the last man, was dropped at midwicket off Simon Renshaw. He then twice edged Jim Bovill for four before being bowled.

Two dazzling slip catches by Phil Simmons brought Robin Smith walking in to a familiar Hampshire crisis at 20 for two. He had time to attempt to hook Millns before the next shower, top-edging for six, and signalled the resumption with a beautifully timed off-drive, off the same bowler, for four. His next score brought Paul Whitaker to Millns' end and an angry fast bowler hurled a grenade into the stumps. By then Parsons had returned for his second spell and, by varying his length and making the ball seam, he ripped out the middle order with three wickets in nine balls for no runs. His first victim, Smith, was bowled playing back.

Adrian Aymes, who possibly had a great uncle at the Battle of Little Big Horn with Custer, again rallied the survivors, helping Will Kendall and Shaun Udal to inch the score, with the ball flying regularly above, between and in front of slips, towards the relative respectability of three figures.

So can Leicestershire win their first Championship since 1975? Yes, in a tight finish to a summer in which there has been no outstanding team. They have speed, spin, audacious batting and infectious catching. But are they as good as Ray Illingworth's team?

One observer, who had no wish to be named, said: "No. I don't want to knock Jimmy's side but Raymond's had five or six Test players and were at their peak. We'll know how good this team is after they've won something. Have they time to grow?"