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By Pete Johnson
Scott Styris had his first bat in Leicestershire colours as the Second XI picked up two victories in the T20 competition at Essex.
In the first game, Leicestershire won the toss and took to the field in the presence of a hot sun that was involved in a constant battle with a high volume of stubborn fluffy white clouds.
England batsman Ravi Bopara (36, 34b) was the only Essex batsman to offer much resistance as the bowling attack were on top throughout.
Anthony Ireland led the way with 3-26 and Rob Taylor also chipped in with 2-21, both off their four-over allocations.
Jigar Naik had superb figures of 4-0-16-1 while Josh Cobb ended with the same return off three overs. Nathan Buck also picked up a wicket and finished with 4-0-31-1 while Michael Thornely had an over for seven runs.
In the chase, Cobb hit a belligerent 27 off just 12 balls, including two sixes, but Leicestershire were 65-4 as the captain fell alongside Niall O’Brien (0), Greg Smith (8) and Matthew Boyce (12).
Ned Eckersley continued his superb form at Chelmsford in recent times by striking an unbeaten 40 (32b, 2x6) while Styris smashed three sixes in a typically aggressive 32 not out off 22 balls.
The duo shared an unbroken stand of 57 in just 6.5 to finish off the job for Leicestershire, and there is now a new television programmed planned in this neck of the woods – the only way is Eckersley!
In the second game, Tom Wells, Ollie Freckingham, Alex Wyatt and Jamie Sykes replaced Styris, O'Brien, Ireland and Buck respectively.
A large black cloud descended on Chelmsford as the innings got underway but the sun soon popped its head through. Graham Napier took a hat-trick as he picked up 4-30 but Leicestershire still posted a competitive 148-7.
Smith made an excellent 55 off just 41 balls. His 50 came from 39 deliveries and included five fours and a six. Eckersley again played well for 36 (26 balls) while Michael Thornely chipped in with 29* (30 balls) to hold the innings together after Napier’s treble.
In reply, Alex Wyatt snared the wickets of Mark Pettini, Bopara and James Foster in a devastating first couple of overs. He had 3-5 after two overs and ended with 3-13 off his allocation.
Essex were firmly on the back foot and Ollie Freckingham’s hat-trick went a long way to ensuring they did not reach three figures. Greg Smith, Kishen Velani and J Nadir all fell to the paceman while Cobb (2-0-16-1), Naik (2-0-13-1) and Sykes (3-0-24-1) picked up a wicket apiece as Essex were dismissed for 84.
A Sykes run out finished the game and the Second team now have seven points out of a possible eight. Leicestershire will also go into their first team game against Derbyshire with plenty of form and confidence.