Lewry spells danger

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Leicestershire 266 and 240

v Sussex 294 and 76-4

With the Championship leaders Yorkshire going down to Somerset yesterday, Leicestershire have every opportunity of going to the top of table by beating Sussex here. With the lunchtime score at 142 for one - a lead of 114 - they looked well on their way to victory, but if there is one certainty in cricket it is the game's glorious uncertainty. After lunch, in hot, humid conditions, Leicestershire lost nine wickets for 95 runs and the pendulum, like the ball, swung Sussex's way.

The damage was done by Jason Lewry, with four wickets at a cost of nine runs in eight overs during a long spell from the Bennett End. In the morning the left-arm seamer had looked quite ordinary at the pavilion end as Vince Wells, Darren Maddy and Ben Smith got Leicestershire's second innings off to a steady start. But as the Leicester mercury rose, Lewry warmed to his task and his efforts were rewarded with six wickets and a match return of 11 for 147. His greatest assets were his accuracy and aggression on a two-paced pitch on which the uneven bounce made batting anything but straightforward.

This has been something of a summer for left-arm seam bowlers and, having left Sussex requiring 213 for victory, Leicestershire must have wished their own sinister seamer, Alan Mullally, was at Grace Road rather than Lord's. His absence was compounded by the muscle strain that sidelined David Millns on Friday and left Gordon Parsons and Phil Simmons to share the new ball yesterday.

The way they bounced back after the defeat against Surrey in mid-June, with three wins on the trot, shows a character that stood them in good stead yesterday. Acting captain Simmons not only marshalled their resources cleverly, but with three wickets in a hostile spell of medium-paced bowling, the West Indian brought Leicestershire right back into the game. Parsons began the incision, having Alan Wells caught off bat-pad. The Sussex captain was unhappy, but as the song goes, "a thousand backward glances don't bring second chances".

It began so well yesterday morning when the running Foxes began their second innings with a deficit of 28. Vince Wells, with 657 Championship runs behind him this season, took the eye with two leg-side boundaries off the luke-warm Vasbert Drakes and a very positive cover drive off Lewry, but it was young Maddy who went on to a major score - a Championship-best 68. Having batted almost two and a half hours for 18 on Thursday, he was almost expansive yesterday, getting to 50 in two hours.

His dismissal, edging to the wicket-keeper off Lewry, was a disappointing end to a compact display. After Wells had his off-stump plucked out by a shooter from Ed Giddins, Maddy and Ben Smith added 105 in 25 overs before Bill Athey's typically neat catch at backward-point cost Smith his half- century. Simmons maintained Leicestershire's momentum with a mixture of cavalier strokes and a modicum of good fortune to reach 36 before Lewry found the edge.

When Lewry bowled Aftab Habib off the inside edge and had Millns leg before with consecutive balls, Leicestershire had only their left-handers, Parsons and Paul Nixon, to give them a competitive advantage. Drakes, however, removed both in quick succession to leave the match fascinatingly poised.