by Pete Johnson
Michael Thornely and Neil Pinner were the stars as Leicestershire beat Kent by five wickets in a Second XI Friendly at Market Harborough CC.
A cold late summer morning greeted the players as they took to the field at Market Harborough. Spectators sitting around the boundary having raided their wardrobes to give their cold weather apparel its first airing for some months.
Kent resumed their innings on 279-9, holding a lead of 224 over Leicestershire. Atif Sheikh and Alex Wyatt opened the bowling for County with the new ball just some six overs old. Lewis Hill donned the keepers gloves at the start of play, taking over from Charlie Lowen.
Hill has had somewhat of an eventful match so far he has batted, bowled one over, and was now keeping wicket. He will be pulling in a couple of marathons after the end of the day’s play, and then leisurely undertaking the Three Peaks Challenge before he retires to bed this evening.
David Griffiths and Matt Hunn advanced the score to 288-9 when skipper Wyatt introduced Usmaan Muzaffer to the attack, replacing Sheikh at the Pavilion End. In his second over, Muzaffar had Griffiths (49) caught at short mid-wicket by Whittock. Hunn was not out on 3.
Kent being all out for 304, County taking a further 9.5 overs this morning to get the remaining wicket. County therefore needed 250 to win in a minimum of 84 overs.
The only bowling figures to change from the previous evening were: Wyatt 25-7-68-4: Sheikh 23-7-48-2: Muzaffar 18.5-4-50-2.
County commenced their innings at 11.50am under very gloomy skies. A large black cloud hovered over the ground for most of the play during the remainder of the morning session.
The Umpires kept casting their eyes skywards, but play continued. Anish Patel & Thornely opened the innings, and had taken the score to 20, when with the first ball of the seventh over Patel (4) was bowled by Griffiths.
The score had only advanced by 1 run when Lowen, promoted to number three in the order was bowled by Hunn for 1, County now on 21-2. The dependable Aadil Ali joined Thornely, and the pair safely took County into lunch on 50-2 from 17 overs. Thornely on 33* from 58 balls, and Ali on 5* from 21 balls.
Prior to the luncheon interval the Scorers were privy to a frustrating and panicking time for the stalwarts of Market Harborough CC who were to serve the lunch. At 12.55 pm the lunches, which were being delivered by an outside Caterer, had still not arrived.
Telephone calls had established that the lunches were on their way, but the van carrying them had got stuck in traffic congestion in Market Harborough town centre due to roadworks.
As we were scoring in the actual lunch room we could hear anguished cries describing the catering chaos. The players were actually walking from the field at 1.00pm when lo and behold the grub arrived.
The ladies and gentleman of MHCC were akin to a team of red arrow pilots, their teamwork transporting grub from van to serving table, as the players walked into the room. You would have never known there had been a problem. Well done to all concerned!
Immediately after lunch, Sam Weller was introduced to the attack. The Kent skipper obviously hoping that Weller, after he had eaten, would rifle one in, but it was not to be. Thornely and Ali produced a splendid partnership of 57 for the third wicket.
Ali made 24; after a watchful start he found the ropes on a couple of occasions in typical Ali-esque style. Thornely meanwhile had advanced to 41 from 85 balls, and you formed the opinion now that Thorners had got the engine running he was about to put his foot down.
Ali went caught behind by Stiddard off Ivan Thomas. The score now 78-3 from 26.1 overs. Pinner joined Thornely, and the pair shared a partnership that all but won the game for County.
Thornely went to his 50 (6x4/97 balls) with the score on 87-3 from 30.2 overs. Thornely took the role of aggressor in the partnership, hitting two maximums in successive overs from Imran Qayyum.
The last over before tea was bowled by CD Piesley. Kent obviously hoping for a 'compact' little over had reckoned without Thornely, who took eight runs from the over, and moved to a well-deserved century. (11x4/2x6/149 balls). County went into tea on 171-3 from 48 overs with Thornely 102* and Pinner 33*.
On the resumption, County needed a further 79 to win from a minimum of 36 overs. The weather had turned considerably colder, but our two staunch followers were still adjacent to the sightscreen, coats buttoned to the collar, in my opinion even a blizzard would not shift 'em.
Thornely (102) went lbw to Griffiths from the last ball of the third over after tea, leaving County on 174-4 from 51 overs. Another fine ton by Thornely, not by any means his first one for the Seconds this season that I have had the pleasure of watching.
Hill (4) stayed briefly before going caught behind by Stiddard off Hunn, leaving County on 183-5 from 53.3 overs, still needing 67 to win. Whittock joined Pinner, and played a solid role whilst Pinner got after the Kent bowling with panache.
Pinner cruised to his 50 (7x4/86 balls) with the total on 200-5. He then began to play an array of shots all around the wicket, ably supported by Whittock, a somewhat unsung member of Tennant’s Terriers.
The pair added an unbroken partnership of 67 for the sixth wicket taking County to victory with 17.1 overs remaining. Whittock administering the coup de grace plundering Thomas, who was running out of steam , for 2, 4, 3 with balls 3 to 5 of the over.
Whittock made a valuable 20 not out from 37 balls and Pinner remained unbeaten on 78 from 120 balls. Pinner has had a fine match with the bat making 89 not out in the first innings, followed by 78 not out in the second innings.
Had there was a MOM award in the match Bearders would have had to have a 'bat off' with Thorners. I must get some tablets for this speech impediment of ers-osis+ that I have developed. + denotes a condition that people get when ending everyone's name in ers.
Finally, we could not leave Market Harborough without giving some sincere thanks to the team of helpers. To Alison and Eileen for all their efforts on the catering side (thanks also ladies for that special pizza you did for me), ably assisted by Club Chairman Steve.
Thanks to groundsman John Gilbert and his staff. Peter for supplying the Scorers with refreshments at their beck and call. Thanks to John for helping out in the scoreboard, and his interesting pontifications.
Finally, to Tom Mercer for a magnificent effort in the scoreboard over days two and three. A great effort Tom, and if I had a £1 for every time you said thank you when I spoke to you on the walkie talkie, I would be a very rich man. What a well-mannered young man, a credit to MHCC.
The Second XI are now looking forward to their semi-final in the Trophy next week. The game is against Middlesex at Grace Road, starting at 10.30am, so please come along and support the team.