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CRICKET: A week in cricket
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The Independent Online
At 32, he may have left it rather late in his career but David Millns, the Leicestershire fast bowler, is doing his best to re-invent himself as an all-rounder.

The former miner's unbeaten 114 against Hampshire at Southampton last week, which effectively turned a losing position into a winning one for the defending Britannic Assurance champions, proved for the second time in eight months that as a one-time No 11 he deserves new respect as a batsman.

Last summer, he ended a nine-year wait for his maiden first-class hundred with 103 against Essex at Grace Road.

"I've always been able to bat properly," Millns said. "In fact, I always used to think of myself as an all-rounder when I played club and second XI cricket.

"When I started playing against top-class bowlers my technique was found wanting and as a professional I've tended to concentrate on my bowling.

"But the accent at Leicester over the last couple of years has been on everyone making a contribution with the bat and the ball and I've been encouraged to work on my batting.

"Some of my shots may be a bit agricultural at times but I've been pleased with one or two others. I really enjoy batting."

His form with the ball has been more than respectable, too, with 12 wickets so far - and he does not yet feel he is performing at full tilt after suffering the latest in a long line of injury setbacks.

"I tore a knee cartilage in South Africa during the winter, which meant an operation in Cape Town in January and three months off," he said.

"But it's fine now. I had a good pre-season and I feel like I'm just starting to run into a bit of form."

TERMS OF THE GAME

The Chinaman

Legend has it the term "Chinaman", for a ball from a slow left-armer spun with the wrist rather than the fingers, originated in the West Indies during the MCC tour of 1929-30. The England and Middlesex batsman, Patsy Hendren, reeled off a string of enormous scores but was undone in the Trinidad Test when Ellis Achong, a left-arm spinner of Oriental extraction, bowled him with a wrist-spinner, prompting Hendren to comment: "Fancy being bowled by a bloody Chinaman."

Urban backdrop disappears to produce a neat and tidy sight

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Grace Road, Leicester

The home of the current Britannic Assurance champions has not always enjoyed the brightest reputation among visiting scribes, particularly those brought up watching cricket at leafy Home Counties grounds, who have sometimes complained that the Grace Road ground lacks character.

While it is true that the streets of terraced houses lining two sides of the ground have combined with the factories behind the pavilion to create a grimly urban backdrop, great efforts have been made to create an attractive venue within.

Tall trees at what used to be known as the Hawkesbury Road end have all but obscured one of the offending lines of houses, while the groundstaff deserve credit for maintaining the complex to a noticeably high standard.

The main development took place in the 1970s and 1980s after the club bought Grace Road from the local education authority, which enabled them among other things to put an end to being obliged to play elsewhere during term times.

The main pavilion has since undergone an impressive refit, made possible in part by the addition of the new stand at the Bennett End (the renamed Hawkesbury Road end) which fronts an indoor cricket school. The former school, within the pavilion, has been redeveloped as an attractive dining room.

If Grace Road wants for atmosphere it is largely due to pitifully small crowds for championship days. Cup matches are a different matter, while the Indian touring team remain hugely popular with Leicester's Asian community. Were it not for difficulties of access and parking problems, Grace Road might have been rewarded for its claim to be among the best-equipped non- Test grounds by staging a one-day international.

THE TOP TEN

Apart from his unbeaten 189 for the West Indies against England at Old Trafford in 1984, which is also the world record limited-overs score, Viv Richards holds the records for the highest one-day innings by a West Indian against Sri Lanka (181 at Karachi in 1987), Australia (153 not out in Melbourne, 1979) and in India (149 at Jamshedpur in 1983).

Robin Smith's unbeaten 167 at Edgbaston in 1993 remains the highest score by an England batsman against Australia. The record for Australia against England is held by Dean Jones, who struck 145 at Brisbane in 1990.

Still no match for the master Viv

Brian Lara may have made his mark on the record books, but cricket still awaits a true successor to Viv Richards, arguably the last batsman of true imperial stature to illuminate the Test grounds of the world.

The speed of his footwork, the mastery of the full range of strokes and the immense power he could unleash against the ball enabled him to dominate any bowling in any conditions. That he could play also with a smile on his face endeared him even to his opponents' supporters, no matter how murderously he might treat their bowlers.

His 189 at Old Trafford came off 170 balls, with 24 fours and five sixes, one of which was hit out of the ground.

Set in its historical context, Richards's masterly exhibition of batting came as the curtain-raiser to a Test series dominated by the formidable bowling quartet of Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Eldine Baptiste - who defeated England 5-0 in what became known as the year of the Blackwash.

The 10 highest individual scores in one-day internationals in England

1 Viv Richards 189* West Indies v England (Old Trafford) 1984

2 Kapil Dev 175* India v Zimbabwe (Tunbridge Wells) 1983

3 Glenn Turner 171* New Zealand v East Africa (Edgbaston) 1975

4 Robin Smith 167*

England v Australia (Edgbaston) 1993

5 Bill Athey 142*

England v New Zealand (Old Trafford) 1986

6 Viv Richards 138*

West Indies v England (Lord's) 1979

7 Dennis Amiss 137

England v India (Lord's) 1975

8 Graham Gooch 136 England v Australia (Lord's) 1989

9 Keith Fletcher 131 England v New Zealand (Trent Bridge) 1975

10 David Gower 130 England v Sri Lanka (Taunton) 1983

THE WEEK

AHEAD

Having lost Andrew Symonds and Courtney Walsh, so little was expected of Gloucestershire this summer that even their closest allies could not make a case for them finishing much higher than 15th in the Championship.

How pleased and surprised they must be to see them leading the table after the opening three rounds, confidence soaring after an impressive victory over Surrey at The Oval last week.

It represents a flying start for Mark Alleyne, who took on the captaincy as third choice behind Walsh and Jack Russell, the former having been ruled out because of West Indies commitments, the latter after failing to reach agreement over the terms of the job.

How long it will last remains to be seen. Alleyne has already made his own contribution, taking 6 for 64 in Surrey's second innings. With support from Mike Smith and David Lawrence, if he stays sound, their attack might not be the worst, after all. Gloucestershire defend their lead against Essex, starting on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, the Australians complete their brief preparation for the Texaco Trophy matches, which open in Leeds on Thursday, by dropping in on an old mate, David Boon, at Chester-le-Street tomorrow.

Top of the form

Bowlers Wkts Last five (most recent on right)

1 D Malcolm (Derbys) 22 6-74; 1-112; 4-95; 5-50; 6-75

2 P DeFreitas (Derbys) 17 3-35; 7-64; 1-53; 5-46; 1-88

3 M Smith (Gloucs) 16 2-62; 4-61; 6-45; 3-35; 1-44

4 A Mullally (Leics) 14 5-52; 0-3; 4-86; 4-69; 1-44

5 A Giles (Warks) 13 2-44; 3-27; 1-116; 4-54; 3-45

6 D Gough (Yorks) 13 5-56; 0-33; 4-62; 4-65

7 J Hewitt (Middx) 13 3-38; 4-60; 4-24; 2-56; 0-13

8 M Alleyne (Gloucs) 12 3-29; 1-47; 1-14; 1-18; 6-64

9 R Johnson (Middx) 12 2-89; 3-56; 0-24; 3-35; 4-26

10 D Millns (Leics) 12 3-47; 0-5; 3-53; 3-38; 3-34

Batsmen Runs Last five (most recent on right)

1 G Lloyd (Lancs) 407 225, 17, 102, 1, 62,

2 C Athey (Sussex) 318 50, 60*, 31, 39, 138*,

3 G Rose (Somerset) 310 10, 109*, 191

4 J Lewis (Durham) 300 210*, 44, 26, 19, 1,

5 S Law (Essex) 286 27, 78, 63, 118*

6 P Prichard (Essex) 278 72, 65, 56, 5, 80

7 D Boon (Durham) 259 58, 85*, 68, 45, 3

8 H Morris (Glamorgan) 258 233, 25

9 K Brown (Middlesex) 248 19*, 1* ,144*, 8 , 76

10 R Harden (Somerset) 239 136*, 103

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