Wells digs deep

Leicestershire 242 and 347 Sussex 233 and 73-2
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The Independent Online
NOT so much a game of fluctuating fortunes, more one in which the home side gets stomped on and then haul themselves back to their feet for a while. On Thursday Leicestershire started solidly before the leg breaks of Ian Salisbury reduced them to 90 for six. But Nigel Briers was still there, nursing his team to a satisfactory total, after which his seamers cut back Sussex to 40 for five.

Then it was Peter Moore (58) and Franklyn Stephenson (80) who put Sussex back in the game. And when Leicester's third wicket, that of the night- watchman Adrian Pierson, fell in mid-morning it was indeed anyone's match.

Enter Gregor Macmillan, playing in his first Championship match. When captaining Oxford University earlier this year he made a match-winning century, and on Thursday, dismissed for a first-ball duck, he may have reflected on the big leap necessary from student cricket.

In spite of having a finger painfully jarred by Paul Jarvis early in his innings, Macmillan steadily took the game away from Sussex. The young spinner Nick Phillips, hoping to seize his chance following the sudden retirement of Eddie Hemmings, will want to forget the second of his two overs just before lunch. After one ball he was on course for a maiden, but the remaining analysis went: 4, 4, 4, 6, 6.

In early afternoon, snicking Jarvis to the fence, Macmillan reached a commanding hundred before the bowler gained instant revenge. Macmillan and Hansie Cronje had added 137 in 24 overs and Cronje required even more patience. While he compiled a further three runs Vince Wells bludgeoned a 340-ball 50.

Again Sussex fought back and Salisbury was still their spearhead, battling the tail and earning match figures of 11 for 171. But the home side would have been well aware that they now required the largest total of the game to win. When the in-form Bill Athey was yorked by Gordon Parsons, lumbering down the slope, they were still 308 runs short of a miracle.