Gough in groove for Yorkshire

Leicestershire 147 and 221 Yorkshire 332 and 37-1 Yorkshire won by nine wickets
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The Independent Online
ANYONE of a cheerily optimistic nature, who followed Leicestershire's remarkable rise to second place last summer, would have welcomed the announcement made just before the start of yesterday's play at Grace Road. "Spectators may be pleased to know," blared the PA, "that Courage's very popular 1945 Ale which ran out on Friday, will be back on tap for Monday."

As it was, the optimism was not well-founded, and a match Yorkshire had expected to win by an innings before lunch was eventually wrapped up in mid-afternoon by nine wickets. Though distinctly unpopular with real ale drinkers looking to enjoy VE Day, it allowed ample time for the visitors to shed their flannels, don their summer terrace-wear, and head for Filbert Street, where Leicester City, including Simon Grayson, brother of Yorkshire batsman Paul, were playing Chelsea.

Leicestershire's performance last summer surprised a lot of people, none more so than their perennially downtrodden supporters, still harking after the glory days under Ray Illingworth. A week ago, a fine win against Essex suggested a team expecting success, but a calamitous loss in midweek against the Minor Counties in the Benson & Hedges Cup has brought the old doubts flooding back and Yorkshire, considering the unseasonal heatwave, rarely had to break sweat to win their first championship match of the season.

Starting the day five wickets down and needing 83 to avoid an innings defeat, Leicestershire began cautiously on a wearing pitch. They had added only 10 when Phil Robinson pushed forward to a ball which barely straightened from Richard Stemp and edged to David Byas at slip.

On a pitch as dry as this one, it is rarely the unplayable ball with its sharp turn and bounce, that gets a batsman out. Rather it is the deliveries that apply the screws in the mind, as the batsman has to contend with the close fielders' chorus of oohs and aahs, until mistakes with stroke or feet are made - something of which Robinson was guilty as he thrust both bat and pad inside the line of the ball.

At the other end Darren Gough bowled like a man fresh from a clutch of career bests and his 80-minute opening spell was a mixture of well-directed bouncers and cunning slower balls. This can prove an admirable strategy on a featherbed pitch, but apart from one of the bumpers calling a temporary halt to Vince Wells' innings, as the batsman took the ball on the visor, it rarely brought his three slips into play.

Nevertheless, although the profusion of short-pitched deliveries would have equated well with Australia's recent methods of roughing up the tail in the Caribbean, it is unlikely to have Illingworth in raptures should England find themselves with half the advantage Yorkshire had here.

With Wells eventually returning to the fray, once Darren Maddy had been caught at short leg off Michael Vaughan's looping off-spin, he and Gordon Parsons enjoyed some carefree bowling up until lunch, by which time Yorkshire had to bat again.

Soon after the break, Wells was bowled heaving at Vaughan for 75 and Adrian Pierson lost his middle stump to Gough. Gordon Parsons top-edged soon after, giving Vaughan a championship best of 3-32.

Yorkshire and Gough have both started the summer well, a sign, we are always assured, that should bode well for England.