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Wells plays brilliantly but County lose final match

Tom Wells made a superb 77-ball 82 but Leicestershire lost their final LV=CC game of the season to Hampshire by 180 runs at Grace Road.

Hampshire declared on 364-2 before both sides forfeited an innings so Leicestershire required 365 to win in a minimum of 96 overs.

There was a disastrous start to the chase, the team being reduced to 36-5 by Matt Coles and James Tomlinson with Shiv Thakor also having to retire hurt.

Wells, who struck 17 boundaries in his dazzling innings, shared 69 with captain Niall O’Brien in a spirited sixth wicket stand.

Wells registered his maiden first-class 50 and moved to within 18 of a hundred before becoming the fifth wicket of the innings for Coles, who shared nine wickets with new ball partner Tomlinson (15.2-3-75-5).

Leicestershire made a positive start to the day as they moved to 18-0 after two overs. Ten came from Tomlinson's first over including five wides and four leg byes.

Smith nicked Coles but the ball went beyond Sean Ervine at first slip and flew away for four before the batsman crunched a cover drive to the fence.

But the seam duo then caused big problems for County by claiming four wickets in as many overs. Coles was moving the ball both ways as well as slipping in the odd bumper, and Tomlinson was extracting plenty of movement back into the right handers.

Smith (9, 12b) was out in the 3rd over when Tomlinson removed his off stump, and Robson (1, 4b) then gloved a vicious bouncer from Coles to Ervine. Tomlinson pinned Thornely (0, 8b) on the back foot while Coles jagged one to bowl Eckersley (4, 9b) off the front pad.

That paired O’Brien and Thakor at the crease with neither having faced a ball and after Thakor found the boundary, he had to retire hurt on 4 (7b) after being cracked on the helmet by another Coles bouncer.

Ben Raine (4, 7b) nicked his second ball down to third man for four but he fell to Coles in unfortunate fashion, the ball bouncing down off a combination of bad and thigh pad and dropping onto the wicket.

An alliance developed with the hard-hitting Wells taking the attack back to the bowlers. Wells twice drove Tomlinson through the off side as the score moved to 50, and the young all-rounder then pulled the same bowler to the mid-wicket boundary. An inside edge also flew for four, fortune favouring the brave on that occasion.

O’Brien played a lovely pull shot as Coles didn’t quite get a bouncer right in the 16th over and the duo continued to play well. Wells cut down to the vacant third man boundary before producing a similar stroke to register the 50 stand.

Wells then hit a beauty of a drive off Ruel Brathwaite (5-2-20-1) through mid-on before pulling the seamer powerfully through mid-wicket as he moved to 40 from as many deliveries. O’Brien then edged an attempted pull over the keeper’s head to record the 100.

Wells drove Ervine (6-0-20-0) through cover point to collect his 9th four but a sixth wicket fell as O’Brien struck Brathwaite to Jimmy Adams at mid-off. Thakor bravely returned to the crease and Wells again drove squarely through the off side to progress to 49.

He was on that score at lunch as County went in on 111-6. There was a special presentation at the interval to Claude Henderson and Matthew Hoggard from Chairman Paul Haywood in recognition of their service to the Club.

A pulled four off Coles took Wells to a 57-ball 50 before the batsman had a reprieve as Ervine dropped a chance off the seamer at first slip. Wells replicated the stroke off Tomlinson but a seventh wicket fell when Thakor (8, 22b) edged Coles, Ervine snapping up the chance on this occasion.

Wells struck Tomlinson over mid-on before edging the left armer beyond Liam Dawson’s grasp at second slip. Wells then let rip by crunching three consecutive Tomlinson deliveries to the off side boundary as the 150 came up.

But the batsman became Coles’ fifth victim in the next over as the seamer got one through Wells’ defences. James Sykes (24. 27b) thrice struck Coles to the fence in the 37th over but he drove Tomlinson to Sean Terry at backward point.

That brought Hoggard to the crease for his final bat in the professional game. Alex Wyatt picked up four by striking Coles through the leg side before Hoggard was put down at third slip by Coles off Tomlinson.

Hoggard went to pick up a single and a two before the match was ended as Wyatt chipped Tomlinson to terry at mid-wicket. Thanks for all of your support throughout the campaign, hope you have enjoyed reading these reports. See you next season.

 
 

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