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Exciting final day awaits

Date: Thursday 13 September 2012

Gloucestershire ended a topsy-turvy third day of the final LV=CC game of the season with a 193 run lead and one second innings wicket intact.

Some good late order batting helped Leicestershire post 295 in their first innings after Shiv Thakor fell for 73 (106b, 12x4).

Claude Henderson (34, 51b, 4x4, 1x6) shared 37 with Nathan Buck (25, 47b, 3x4) and 22 with Matthew Hoggard (0*, 13b) as County claimed a valuable lead of 61.

Leading wicket-taker Wayne White (10-1-40-4) picked up three victims in an over to move to 43 first-class wickets for the summer as the visitors slipped to 136-5 second time around.

But a sixth wicket stand worth 77 between Dan Housego (62, 137b, 4x4) and Will Gidman held up the charge.

Hoggard (6-0-23-2) and Claude Henderson (22-5-62-3) then took two wickets apiece before stumps to keep Leicestershire’s noses in front as Gloucestershire closed on 254-9.

Leicestershire started the day 14 runs behind Gloucestershire with five first innings wickets in hand but James Fuller (18.2-3-51-4) wreaked havoc.

The team lost a wicket before taking the lead as Fuller, who persisted with a short line round the wicket to White (25, 80b, 1x4), got his man. White fended off to Housego at short leg and County were 225-6.

Fuller utilised the same line of attack to Jigar Naik and although the batsman pulled a four first ball, he fell to the same stroke to a catch at Benny Howell at mid-wicket. Thakor drove Jack Taylor to the fence between the wickets as he moved into the seventies but Fuller then took his wicket.

The paceman switched to over the wicket and found Thakor’s outside edge with a delivery that, like his surname, was fuller. It was a superb period of bowling but Henderson and Buck formed a more than useful partnership to frustrate Gloucestershire.

Buck drove Fuller for four through point and he also swept Taylor to the ropes. A pulled two brought up the second batting point and Gloucestershire took the new ball immediately with County on 254-8.

Henderson belted a four through square leg and Buck drove over backward point for his third four. However, Buck fell lbw to Liam Norwell in the next over with Leicestershire now on 273-9.

Henderson hit three fours in the mid-wicket region as the lead went past 50 and the spinner then smashed a six over mid-on. But with five needed for a third batting point, Henderson pulled the returning Fuller (18.2-3-51-4) to Howell.

That left Gloucestershire a tricky little period to bat before lunch and four different bowlers were used; the new ball duo and both spinners. Ed Cowan twice drove for four, including a belter through mid-on, as the visitors went in on 9-0.

Buck and Hoggard started after the interval and Howell struck four fours in quick succession to get the scoreboard moving. Cowan again drove through mid-on but White struck a key blow as he got a feather on an attempted cut and was the first of six victims for Ned Eckersley.

Howell was determined to be positive against the spinner and he advanced to hit Naik uppishly through mid-wicket. Housego also used his feet to drive with élan past mid-off to register the 50 and the advantage was soon wiped out.

Howell picked up a sixth four as runs continued to flow but an important second wicket came. Henderson, who bowled a spell from the Pavilion End that was threatening as well as economical, bowled the opener round his legs as he attempted to sweep.

Henderson was getting plenty of turn and Naik also posed problems but Gloucestershire built sensibly. Housego was rewarded for his patience with a second boundary as he latched on to a short ball from Henderson.

Gloucestershire went to tea on 116-2 with Housego on 40 and Alex Gidman 14 and that represented a lead of 55 at that stage. The stand then passed 50 as Housego cut to the fence and Leicestershire were in need of a wicket.

White always looked the most likely and he picked up three wickets in an over to completely change the complexion. The seamer opted for a short-pitched attack against Gidman (24, 66b) and the move worked as the skipper got a feather on one and Eckersley took a superb diving catch to his left.

Hamish Marshall followed in identical fashion three balls later and Ian Cockbain edged his first delivery to give the keeper a third catch in the over. Gloucestershire then regrouped as Housego’s patient accumulation and Gidman’s powerful hitting proved a good combination.

Gidman hit three boundaries in quick succession and Housego moved to a valuable 50 from his 105th delivery. Gidman went on to reverse-sweep Henderson for four before producing a conventional sweep off Naik that also found the fence.

The number seven hit two more reverse-sweeps to the ropes off Naik as the stand reached 50 and the left-hander then pulled and cut Henderson for further fours. Gidman cut the returning Buck for four – his 10th – to move to a terrific 49-ball half-century and another boundary followed as he drove through mid-on.

That stroke took the lead beyond 150 but a crucial wicket came as Housego got an inside edge off Hoggard and Eckersley took a fifth catch. Jack Taylor made a breezy seven before top-edging Hoggard to White before Jon Batty and Gidman each hit fours.

Batty (16*, 25b, 1x4, 1x6) launched a six to take the score to 250. A key wicket then fell as Gidman overbalanced against Henderson and Eckersley had his sixth victim of the innings. Fuller was then lbw on the sweep before Batty saw out the final over to leave the game delicately poised.


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