Stemp rides his luck

Leicestershire 681-7 dec Yorkshire 342 and 160-5
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Yorkshire are engaged in a fairly hopeless damage-limitation exercise here after being toppled from the head of the championship table by Kent, seeking the draw that would limit the arrears to a single point and keep Leicestershire, for the moment, at arm's length.

However, the odds are against them after Leicestershire's spinners stuck two blows near the close. Anthony McGrath was bowled on the back foot by the off spinner Adrian Pierson, and Chris Silverwood, sent in as nightwatchman, was caught at forward short-leg off Matthew Brimson.

The latter might be judged as a wicket thrown away, given that the situation perhaps called for someone with greater experience than a 21-year-old rookie fast bowler. The consequence is that Yorkshire, needing 339 to make Leicestershire bat again, are up against it.

Michael Bevan, the Australian serving them so well this season, finished unbeaten on 45, one boundary away from becoming the first batsman this season to reach 1,000 first-class runs, but that achievement, assuming he completes it, is now likely to be incidental to a Leicestershire win that their mammoth first-innings score, the highest total conceded in Yorkshire's history, always made likely.

When they resumed in the morning, four first-innings wickets down and still 538 runs behind, Yorkshire's outlook looked bleak. Soon it became still more dire as Gordon Parsons removed Craig White and Richard Blakey in his fourth and fifth overs, pushing Yorkshire into deeper trouble at 154 for six. Both fell in similar fashion, edging to gully as Parsons discovered some extra bounce.

In the event, runs came from less expected sources, Darren Gough making a brisk and powerful half-century, then Silverwood and Richard Stemp combined in a partnership of 79, a record for Yorkshire's last wicket against Leicestershire, surpassing 73 by Phil Carrick and Paul Jarvis at Leicester in 1984. The last four wickets added 188, more than doubling the score.

Gough's approach was just right, his aggression taking some of the wind from the bowlers' sails. But he was careful to pick his shots wisely, collecting seven fours as well as a six driven back over Parsons' head off 64 deliveries.

Bevan shared with Gough a stand of 75 in 14 overs before Pearson took his third gully catch of the morning and although Peter Hartley soon followed, caught at slip after the ball had rebounded from wicketkeeper Paul Nixon's arm, Silverwood re-established the bat's ascendancy. Gough eventually mistimed an on-drive, scooping a catch to midwicket, but this merely introduced Stemp, who rode his luck to frustrate Leicestershire on the way to his second half-century of the season. Stemp was dropped three times - on 16, 28 and 32.

Following on, Yorkshire's openers each survived the indignity of bagging a pair and initially settled well, but then David Millns removed both Martyn Moxon and David Byas in quick succession, the latter splendidly caught by Phil Simmons in the slips, before Yorkshire's hopes of a substantial recovery were undermined first when Michael Vaughan played on to Pierson and again when McGrath and Silverwood perished in the closing overs.