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by Pete Johnson
Leicestershire Second XI took a huge step towards the Championship final after a convincing eight-wicket win at Yorkshire.
Openers Michael Thornely and Anish Patel both posted cultured half-centuries after Leicestershire quickly wrapped up the Yorkshire innings, so it was another job well done by the team.
Lancashire can get 48 points from their last two games and if they did secure the maximum haul, County would need 11 points from their final match at Glamorgan next week to secure their place in the Final.
On the final morning of our stay in Yorkshire, Tennant’s Troops had to check out of their third hotel in four days. This week the Second XI have had more 'check outs' than Phil 'The Power' Taylor.
We made the scenic journey through the centre of York, admiring the Minster, the Wall around the City, but the sight that really caught my eye was the Brigadier Gerrard pub, a lovely racing retreat. The Brigadier having obliged in past years in the big Ebor Meeting at York.
On arriving at York Cricket Club, in line with our hotel experiences, we found that we had been moved to another area of the Clubhouse so as to accommodate a blood donating session. We safely negotiated this haemophiliac hiatus, and settled into yet another new room.
Yorkshire resumed on 145-8, holding a lead of 143 runs. County hoped to knock over the last two wickets quickly, and Ben Raine and Ollie Freckingham made sure this happened. Yorkshire survived for 7.2 overs, adding a further six runs in the process.
Nathan Firn (7) was first to go; after surviving a bit of 'chin music' from Raine, he edged a delivery from Raine to keeper Charlie Lowen. The Umpires had informed us that Mo Ashraf, who was down as the non-batter, could in fact bat as Ben Coad was injured and unable to bat.
Ashraf is the James Bond of Yorkshire batting as he boasts a batting average of 0.07. He was soon on his way, caught behind by Lowen off Freckingham for 2. Raine finished with excellent figures of 18-7-31-5, Freckingham returning figures of 14.2-3-36-2.
County needed 150 to win and move well clear at the top of the 2nd XI table. Patel and Thornely opened up, and Thornely was soon into the groove with a succession of boundaries all around the wicket off Sidebottom and Ashraf.
These were intermingled with Thornely's textbook forward defensive strokes, and copy book drives. At times his bat looks as though it has been crafted from a barn door.
At the other end, Patel was accumulating slowly but surely. This was a big ask for Patel who has plied his trade in club cricket, and here he was having to contend with a former England Test bowler at one end.
Just before lunch a rabbit entered the field of play, and positioned itself at short third man. Ryan Sidebottom tried to usher it from the pitch, but the long-eared little mammal took no notice of him, and stood its ground. Patel and Thornely took County into lunch on 68-0 from 20 overs.
Shortly after the break, Patel worked James Wainman for a boundary, then hooked him for the first maximum of the match. Patel was particularly vicious on any short bowling offered to him. Thornely brought his 50 up (9x4/66 balls), with the score on 95-0 after 25.5 overs.
With the score on 97, Thornely (52) was caught at cover by Firn off Wainman. Ned Eckersley joined Patel, and with the game all but won, took to enjoying himself. Patel moved to what must have been a very satisfying half-century (7x4/1x6) from 97 balls with the score on 115-1.
'Edlamp' Eckersley blasted a swift 24 from 25 balls before departing caught at long on by Wainman off spinner James Logan. Raine joined Patel with 14 runs needed, and it was Raine who posted the winning runs, hitting Logan for a huge six, that landed on the pavilion roof.
Raine is a very strong individual, and it is noticeable that you never see him in the same room as Desperate Dan...County cruised to their target in 35.2 overs. They will now travel to Cardiff CC for their final Trophy and Championship group game of the season next week.