by Charles Gill
A fantastic century from stand-in captain Josh Cobb and Rob Taylor’s best score for Leicestershire took the team to 388 all out and a lead of 237 going into the final day of the LV=CC game against Kent at Grace Road.
Cobb resumed the day’s play on 17 and plundered 120 more runs to take him to the third first-class ton of his career. Taylor was unlucky to play on when two short of a maiden Leicestershire hundred.
In reply, Kent lost the early wicket of Rob Key, lbw to Ben Raine, but ended on 66-1 to leave themselves requiring 238 runs to win from the final day.
Returning to the crease with the score on 87-3, Greg Smith was the first of the overnight batsmen to reach his fifty from 100 balls with five boundaries.
Smith departed shortly after as he edged Mitchell Claydon behind to Sam Billings just three balls later without adding to his score.
At the other end Darren Stevens found the edge of Cobb’s bat, only to see Ben Harmison drop a chance in the gully when the future-centurion was still in the teens.
Stevens and Key tried inventive ways of dismissing the patient Cobb, including having no fielders on the leg side as well as five slips and a gully, to which Cobb promptly smashed two fours on the leg-side from straight balls.
Niall O’Brien (33) joined the captain with the score on 98-4 and shepherded the total to 169 before the Irish left-hander edged a Charlie Hartley delivery to Billings. The pair added 71 runs in quick time, just 128 deliveries.
Then came the Taylor and Cobb show. By this time, the latter had already reached his 50, from 104 balls with nine fours and a six, and was looking in fine form.
Taylor hit three early boundaries to mark the 100 run lead and in seemingly no time, Taylor had raced to his half-century too. It was brought up in spectacular fashion with consecutive lofted drives for four off spinner Adam Riley. The landmark took only 56 balls and contained 11 boundaries.
Cobb brought up his century with a well-judged single off the spinner, his first century since the 101 scored against Derbyshire in April 2012. Cobb took 186 balls to reach three figures and the milestone included 15 fours and a six.
After reaching the landmark, Cobb began to play his shots and the chances developed too. Hartley put down two extremely difficult chances, one off his own bowling and one running in at third man, and Stevens could only get fingertips to a sharp chance at slip.
Meanwhile, Taylor kept on batting and hit off-spinner Adam Riley for six then four to take him past his previous best score for Leicestershire, 70 against Surrey in 2011. Cobb finally fell after five hours on 137 when he was trapped lbw by Stevens to break the 175-run partnership, easily the best of the game.
Taylor was bowled by a Stevens ball that kept low and begrudgingly had to walk off the field with 98 runs to his name and two short of his second first-class century, his first coincidentally against Leicestershire when playing for Loughborough University.
Claydon was expensive this innings conceding 141 runs in his 30 overs, but did dismiss Raine and Nathan Buck before the end. When Shreck was bowled by Stevens for 1, Leicestershire had a lead of 303. Stevens, who bowled 33.1 overs in this innings, finished with 5-85, his fourth five-wicket haul in the County Championship this season.
Buck and Shreck opened the bowling with the former having a big leg before shout against Daniel Bell-Drummond turned down by umpire Peter Hartley in the second over. Captain Cobb turned to Raine and his tenth ball delivered the goods, pinning Key lbw for just 16. Harmison atoned for his earlier drop by staying strong until the end. He finished the day on 24 with Bell-Drummond beside him on 26.