Marsh makes positive move

Kent 498-9 dec & 26-0 dec Leics 160-4 dec &

Derek Pringle
Friday 18 July 1997 23:02

Global warming may be melting the ice caps but it has not reached Canterbury, where Kent and Leicestershire spent another day dodging a cold fret, as another large chunk of the day's play was lost to inclement weather. However with both sides desperate for a result, Leicestershire declared their first innings 338 runs behind, as belated collusion between the captains attempted to keep the final day of this match from loping towards a tepid draw.

It was a positive gesture, particularly by Steve Marsh, the Kent skipper, who between showers and a brief second innings, set his opponents 365 to win. Perhaps it was the presence of Sky's cameras which brought out his gallant side and a willingness to risk his team's unassailable position. If so, viewers can now look forward to a potentially more exciting Saturday's viewing than would otherwise have been the case.

For Leicestershire, the defending champions, it was their only hope of making up for lost ground. According to their players, rain has followed them around the country. By close of play they had lost almost 1,500 overs to bad light and rain this season, the equivalent of about 30 per cent of their matches.

Lack of play, is not the only reason their hold on the pennant will probably not be extended beyond September and the absence of last season's overseas player, the West Indian all-rounder Phil Simmons, has had repercussions beyond his own fine performances.

With Simmons being caught up in contractual difficulties with the West Indies Board, Leicestershire were forced to look elsewhere, eventually settling for Neil Johnson, a 27-year old all-rounder from Natal.

Considering he was their fourth choice, Johnson has not let them down, particularly with his batting which has been assertive. When Leicestershire batted for the first time yesterday, he scored 72 off 75 balls, an innings that paid little heed to the fact that his team were 39 for 3 when he walked in to bat.

Most of that damage was done by Julian Thompson, a medical doctor with a neat line in medium-pace seam. A tall man, Thompson moved the ball enough to have Darren Maddy caught by Marsh off the outside edge, while James Whitaker, crabbed a nip-backer to short-leg.

Sensing a rare opportunity had been granted, the visitors were far more watchful second time around, the only palpitation coming when Vince Wells, brilliantly caught by Paul Strang in the first innings, was dropped by his namesake at first slip off Matthew Fleming.

Wells was on six at the time, a fact that may well recalled by Kent supporters, should he lead his side to the 345 runs they now need to record their second victory of the season.

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