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Niall O’Brien again led a Leicestershire recovery on the first day of the LV=CC game against Derbyshire.
Leicestershire were 11-3 before Ned Eckersley (44, 117b) and Josh Cobb (50, 77b) shared exactly 100 but when they both fell, the team were 113-5.
O’Brien (89, 128b) had starred in a fightback on the first day of the recent match versus Gloucestershire and again played well here.
The ‘keeper shared 69 for the sixth wicket with Rob Taylor (40, 33b) before adding a priceless 118 for the seventh with Ben Raine (55, 129b) as Leicestershire posted 311.
Mark Footitt bowled with good pace and bounce throughout the innings and thoroughly deserved his analysis of 6-65. New ball partner Tony Palladino also bowled well in claiming the other four wickets to fall.
Derbyshire closed on 12-0 from nine overs with Stephen Moore (10, 33b) and Paul Borrington (2*, 1b) the not out batsmen.
The match was scheduled to be the first of the season but was postponed due to a tragic accident involving Derbyshire wicket-keeper Tom Poynton and his father Keith.
Everybody at Leicestershire CCC was devastated to hear that Keith passed away and after Derbyshire got in touch, we felt that it was right to postpone the game as a mark of respect. Members of the Poynton family were at Grace Road today, and we hope that they enjoyed their stay with us.
Leicestershire made three changes to the side that lost to Gloucestershire in the last game. Charlie Shreck and Nathan Buck were injured, and were replaced by Raine and Anthony Ireland. James Sykes was also brought into the team in place of Jigar Naik.
Derbyshire made a late adjustment to the squad as Tom Taylor was brought into their 12 in place of Tim Groenewald, and the young seamer was handed his debut.
Leicestershire’s innings was a strange one in a couple of senses as three partnerships accounted for 285 of the runs scored and two bowlers took all ten wickets.
For the second consecutive game, Leicestershire lost a wicket to the first ball of the game as Angus Robson drove Footitt to Marcus North in the gully. A second wicket came in the next over as Palladino (19-5-62-4) trapped Greg Smith (4, 2b) leg before after the batsman had driven his first ball to the ropes.
Ramnaresh Sarwan (5, 4b) glanced his first delivery away for four but when he was caught by Borrington at short leg in the third over off Footitt, County were in real trouble on 11-3.
Cobb drove down the ground later in the over to open his account with a boundary. A fourth wicket nearly came in the fifth over as Cobb drove Footitt aerially towards mid-off but although David Wainwright made a great attempt, he couldn’t hold on. Cobb then struck the last ball of the over through extra cover for four.
An Eckersley edge off Palladino found its way between third slip and gully as the game continued to be frenetic in nature. The duo then calmed things down with a combination of fluent strokeplay and solid defence.
Eckersley played with soft hands to guide Footitt for four before a pleasant drive through cover point also flew away. Tom Taylor (13-1-50-0) came on to bowl the 10th over and his first ball was on a perfect line and length. Cobb cut for four as the youngster dropped the next delivery short but it was a good first over nevertheless.
Cobb nudged Tom Taylor down to third man before recording a couple of off-side boundaries off the returning Palladino in the 15th over. The first four registered the Leicestershire half-century and the duo then extended their stand to 50.
Eckersley glanced for four and, when Alex Hughes (6-0-24-0) and Wainwright (14-1-63-0) entered the attack, he drove the respective pair through mid-off and mid-on for a brace of boundaries. Cobb drilled Wainwright over mid-off and Eckersley then used his feet to drive the spinner through extra as County moved into three figures.
The score was 107-3 at lunch with Eckersley on 43 and Cobb 46, and the latter completed his half-century from 75 balls with an eighth four. It also recorded the 100 partnership but Cobb fell without further addition after driving Footitt to Scott Elstone at backward point.
Footitt produced a couple of beauties to beat Eckersley, and Derbyshire built on that pressure as Palladino trapped the number three batsman in front. Leicestershire were now in another spot of bother on 113-5.
O’Brien and Rob Taylor were paired together without scoring but soon got stuck in. O’Brien edged Footitt to get off the mark with a four before being hit by a vicious bouncer from the same bowler. The ‘keeper had a breather and then drove Palladino to the cover boundary.
Rob Taylor struck four well-timed boundaries as he settled quickly and O’Brien smashed Footitt down to third man as Leicestershire launched a counter-attack. Rob Taylor drove his namesake Tom through straight mid-wicket while O’Brien edged and cut Palladino to the ropes as the stand reached 50.
Derbyshire turned to Wainwright in a bid to slow the scoring rate but Rob Taylor hit two fours and a straight six in the slow left armer’s first over back. The left-hander was looking a million dollars but drove to Hughes in the covers in the next over as Palladino put paid to the 67-run stand.
Another stand developed between two left-handed batsmen, with O’Brien hitting three further boundaries. Raine flicked away for four to record a first batting point, and O’Brien moved to a 65-ball 50 (8x4).
Raine struck consecutive fours in the 57th over before O’Brien pulled the returning Hughes through straight mid-wicket. Raine drove the same bowler past the fielder at mid-on to take the stand to 50, and Leicestershire went to tea on 235-6 with O’Brien on 60 and Raine 22.
A key moment came shortly after County recorded a second batting point as O’Brien was dropped by Wayne Madsen at slip off Elstone (7-1-22-0). Raine drove, pulled and cut to the ropes as he moved towards 50, and O’Brien clipped a full toss away.
Raine moved to a 112-ball 50 (8x4) with a single that also brought up the 100 partnership. The score moved to 290-6 after 80 overs and the new ball was taken immediately.
There was a flurry of activity. O’Brien smashed the first two balls for four but Footitt gained revenge with his next delivery as North (9-1-16-0) took a blinder of a catch on the third man boundary. Sykes (0, 4b) edged Palladino to Madsen at first slip, while Raine was caught at mid-on by Wainwright to give Footitt a fifth wicket.
The third batting point had been recorded between the wickets of Sykes and Raine, and Alex Wyatt and Ireland each punched a four down the ground before Footitt had Wyatt (6, 7b) caught at bat pad by Borrington. That left Derbyshire nine overs to bat and Moore inside edged for four in the first over.
A big leg before appeal against Borrington came in Wyatt’s opening over before Moore cut a four in the next over. Runs then dried up as the openers played for stumps.
Bowling figures: Ireland 3-1-8-0, Wyatt 3-2-3-0, Raine 2-1-1-0, Taylor 1-1-0-0.
* Thanks to Ed Melia for the photo of Niall O'Brien.