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Smith holds firm after good bowling performance

Date: Tuesday 11 September 2012

Regular wickets fell on the opening day of the final LV=CC game of the season between Leicestershire and Gloucestershire at Grace Road.

Claude Henderson took 3-32 from 15.5 overs as Gloucestershire were dismissed for 234 and County moved to 94-3 in reply with Greg Smith unbeaten on 47.

The first five Gloucestershire wickets fell to the seam bowling of Nathan Buck (14-1-55-2), Shiv Thakor (5-0-24-2) and Wayne White (8-3-20-1) before Henderson and Jigar Naik (13-0-36-2) found plenty of turn and bounce.

The day was a good contest between bat and ball and the contest is shaping up to be an interesting one.

Leicestershire made three changes as Henderson, Smith and Buck came in for Alex Wyatt, Rob Taylor and Will Jones. Gloucestershire won the toss and elected to bat first and there was an all-action first session.

There was an early scare for Benny Howell as he survived a loud lbw appeal from Buck in the second over. Amid the confusion, Ed Cowan sent Howell back and he could easily have been run out.

Buck bowled with good pace and swing early on and asked plenty of questions. Cowan struck boundaries through mid-wicket and extra cover as he started with promise but Buck produced a beauty to knock back his off-stump and Gloucestershire had lost their key man.

White came on from the Bennett End and after Howell was put down by Smith at first slip, the all-rounder then gained some deserved reward. Howell offered no stroke and the ball nipped back sharply and clipped the top of the off-stump.

Dan Housego (22, 34b) battled through and cut a couple of fours as the score passed fifty while Alex Gidman cut and pulled boundaries in Thakor’s opener. The all-rounder hit back by trapping the skipper lbw in the following over and a second wicket followed as Thakor nipped one through Housego’s defences with the score on 71.

Top-scorers Ian Cockbain (48, 59b, 7x4) and Hamish Marshall (47, 66b, 9x4) then shared 96 in good time for the fifth wicket. Marshall twice collected fours and Cockbain drove through the covers to the fence as runs continued to come a little too freely for Leicestershire’s liking.

Cockbain nicked White just short of Smith as the seamer continued to look threatening but Marshall continued to go well as he picked up two leg-side fours. The stand reached 50 before lunch as Gloucestershire went in on 121-4.

Cockbain drove three fours in the opening two overs after the break and the duo continued to punish anything loose. Marshall cut two boundaries as Buck switched ends but there was an important wicket later in the over as the Kiwi nicked to Ned Eckersley.

That ended the stand and although Cockbain cut and swept Henderson for four, he fell in the spinner’s next over after driving loosely to Thakor at cover. The two wickets gave Leicestershire the chance to exert some control given neither Will Gidman nor Jon Batty had scored when the partnership started.

Henderson was getting plenty of turn and bounce from the Pavilion End and Naik came on to form a spin duopoly. Batty advanced to drive Henderson for four as another alliance developed but scoring against the spinners was generally hard work.

Gidman (26, 58b) played and missed a lot against Naik, who bowled a great line and length, but the left-hander did cut to the fence after the off-spinner dropped a little short for once.

The stand reached 50 before Naik pinned Gidman lbw for a hard-earned wicket and Gloucestershire went to tea on 227-7. Naik dismissed Batty (23, 95b) in identical fashion after the break and Henderson then mopped things up.

The slow left armer had James Fuller caught behind and Liam Norwell followed first ball as he nicked to Smith at first slip. That gave Leicestershire 28 overs to bat and Smith and Michael Thornely opened.

Smith twice drove to the ropes in the opening two overs but Thornely was dismissed lbw by Gidman in the third. Eckersley hit behind square for four to get off the mark while and Smith twice cut to the fence as he continued to go well.

Off-spinner Jack Taylor was on as early as the 9th over and Eckersley drove down the ground for four first ball. The keeper then pulled Fuller for four before driving Norwell through the leg-side. Eckersley had played well in collecting 25 but he was yorked by Norwell with the score on 50.

Smith drove through mid-on for his fifth four before crashing through the covers. The opener then pulled Taylor for four before Matthew Boyce (10, 37b) was trapped lbw by Will Gidman. Josh Cobb (10*, 11b) hit two fours in the 25th over as he saw the team to stumps alongside Smith.


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