Wells and Whitaker dig deep

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The Independent Online
reports from Bradford

Leicestershire 461-4 v Yorkshire

Leicestershire, in 16 visits to Park Avenue, have never won on this ground, so the scoreboard last night fairly sparkled for the few present who follow the Running Fox. Their team looked brisk, chirpy, confident while the Championship leaders were thoroughly out of sorts, missing five catches and bowling without inspiration or guile.

For James Whitaker, Leicestershire's new captain, it was especially satisfying. As a Skipton-born schoolboy he was sent to the Wintershed at Headingley where the coaches proved less discerning than those at Uppingham School. When he had made his name at Grace Road, and played for England, a plot was hatched to bring him back to Yorkshire as captain, and that collapsed, too.

With a little crosswind and a pitch that has offered nothing more than an even bounce, the first indication of what was thought likely to happen came when Whitaker omitted Carlos Remy to include a spinner, Matthew Brimson. His decision to bat was fully vindicated as Vince Wells and Darren Maddy set about Darren Gough and Peter Hartley with near disdain.

Fifty arrived in 52 minutes, Wells having pulled Gough for six. Maddy was more discreet but after 12 overs David Byas had his second-line seamers operating and it was Chris Silverwood who made the breakthrough, Maddy driving at a ball that might have swung away.

At the same score, in Craig White's first over, Wells prodded to short mid-off, Richard Stemp, to offer a catch so simple that he dropped it. Ben Smith took three handsome boundaries off White before he, too, edged Silverwood. Phil Simmons cut his third ball just over slips and, at 18, edged Gough fast and low, Byas doing well, diving, to get a hand to it.

Simmons then offered a sharp chance to midwicket, off Silverwood, at 33 and after the pair had raised 100 in 24 overs was missed again, at third man, off White, when 48. Wells went to his first century of the summer, off 174 balls, and four runs later that same midwicket, Anthony McGrath, this time held Simmons, off Hartley.

Whitaker thus walked in at a comfortable 229 for 3 off and made hay, 50 off 73 balls, the second hundred-stand of the innings coming in 17 overs. At 168, Wells passed his career-best and was back in the dressing- room, a victim of Gough with the new ball, when he learned he had scored 200, a six having been signalled four. Whitaker completed a chanceless century in poor light.

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