Bowlers work hard in solid Seconds performance

Leicestershire v Northamptonshire, Second XI Championship, Day 1:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Before commencing day one of Despatches from Desborough I just wanted to put the record straight regarding an inference I made to Bruce Forsyth in my match report from High Wycombe last Thursday, with a wicket mentioned as a ‘Brucie bonus’. The match report was posted on the LCCC website last Friday morning, and unfortunately Sir Bruce Forsyth passed away on the Friday afternoon.

The wording relating to Bruce was immediately removed when news of his passing was known, however some people may have read my match report before the wording was removed. I just wanted to make it known that I would not have made any comment as such in the immediate aftermath had I known of Sir Bruce’s passing. RIP Brucie, a true showbiz legend.

Here we are then our second visit to Desborough Town CC this season, this time for a three-day SEC match against Northamptonshire, Leicestershire being the home side. Geography was never one of my strengths. This is County’s last SEC match of their 2017 campaign. When you play a match at Desborough there is a constant backdrop of chattering and squealing form young children on the rides at the nearby Farm Park.

It was somewhat of an attritional days play at Desborough today, Northamptonshire making 250-6, from 94.2 overs, from around teatime there were three stoppages for bad light, the third of which resulted in play being abandoned for the day. Ewan Cox made 57 for Northamptonshire and David Murphy was undefeated on 52. Leg-spinner Matty McKiernan returned impressive figure of 3-34 from 18 overs for Leicestershire.

Tom Sole won the toss for Northamptonshire and chose to bat. Ben Raine was skippering County. The players took to the field on what felt like a dank Autumnal morning in dull and cloudy conditions, with no breeze to move the stubborn low cloud.

There were some 40 spectators present when play commenced, mostly sitting around the boundary edge in an assortment of fold-up chairs in a variety of colours. Over half of the spectators paid me a visit asking for a scorecard. My challenging role does not involve just sitting down all day watching a cricket match, there are several ancillary duties to perform. I was chucking scorecards around like confetti.

Charlie Thurston and Cox opened up for the Steelbacks with Raine and Ajmal Shahzad sharing the new ball. The pair reeled off five overs each from which just 18 runs came before Raine made a double change introducing Dominic Manthorpe and Neil Dexter to the attack.

At this juncture my face lit up when I saw local Umpire Ray Medland (the bloke who ALWAYS brings me a bag of sweets) approaching the Pavilion. Ray breezed into the scorebox, and asked if I would like a cup of tea, good fail safe option if he had no sweets in tow. That’s fine Raymondo, but where are the regulation delivery of sweets? (I thought to myself).

Upon delivering a splendidly made cup of tea to me, Ray skulked off with a somewhat apologetic demeanour to his body language. Fifteen minutes or so later he returned to the ground, having stepped up to the plate, and presented me with a large bag of Werthers. Bang On Raymondo!!!

Thurston and Cox brought up their 50 partnership after 23.1 overs. The 50 partnership took about as long as it would take Dan Nice to get to the bar if he had a large round to buy. (Editor’s note, this passes under the defence of fair comment!)

Raine was shuffling his four seam bowlers around, changing the end they were bowling from as well. When the score had reached 58, Thurston (26) went lbw to Raine.

Northamptonshire went into Lunch on 93-1 from 35 overs. Cox 37* and Saif Zaib 18*. After having my lunch there was still some 15 minutes or so before play was due to resume. I returned to the scorebox for a bit of ‘keyboard jousting’ on social media. A gentleman approached the scorebox, stood in front of the open window of said scorebox, and asked, ‘Could you possibly tell me what the score is please’? You could not make it up!!!!!

In the third over after lunch, Zaib (19) was caught down the leg-side by keeper Harry Swindells off Manthorpe. Harry Adair joined Cox but Adair (10) was soon afterwards bowled, going back to a delivery from Manthorpe. Adair seeing red, but I am sure we must have been there before.

Cox went to his 50 (7x4) from 148 balls with the score on 123-3 from 46.5 overs. Cox had rattled up a further seven runs from just 30 balls, (I do have a bit of literary license if you happen to read this Ewan) when he popped one up to mid-on off McKiernan which was caught by Shahzad.

An extremely patient innings from Cox, showing great maturity and temperament at the crease for one so young. Cox’s 57 coming up from 178 balls. Cox laying a good foundation to the innings.

Another little nugget of statistical analysis of this dismissal was that all four of the wickets to fall so far today had come from the last ball of an over. I have it before I must get out more. Its catching, I am morphing into one.

David Davies (don’t know how he finds the time for cricket with all his Brexit responsibilities), and Murphy were now at the crease. Davies (8) went lbw to McKiernan, who was bowling beautifully from the Car Park End.

Sole joined Murphy. I had the song ‘Soul Man’ (1967) by Sam & Dave going through my mind as he made his way to the dancefloor, whoops typo I meant the middle. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

At 3.55pm the Umpires took the players from the field as a result of bad light. Northants 161-5 from 64.2. Tea was taken during the stoppage. The players returned to the field at 4.21pm, but Raine had to turn to an all-spin attack of McKiernan and Harry Dearden as the light was suspect.

Sole (15) was bowled by McKiernan with the score on 183-6 from 71.4. Sharif forged an unbeaten partnership with Murphy. The umpires were constantly removing the bails and placing a light meter on top of the stumps, at the Farm Park End. They were like a couple of moths round a lamp eagerly looking at the reading.

At 4.53pm there was a further stoppage for bad light, 190-6 from 72.5 overs, Murphy 30* and Sharif 6*. The players returned to the field at 5.15pm. The light improved and County took the new ball after 80 overs had been bowled.

Murphy and Sharif brought up their 50 partnership from 101 balls with the score on 236-6 from 88.2.  Murphy went to his 50 (6x4) from 107 balls. At 6.41pm the light closed in again, and the players left the field for a third time as a result of the light. This time there was to be no return as at 6.58pm the Umpires abandoned play for the day with 9.4 overs still remaining.

Northamptonshire closed at 250 for 6 from 94.2 overs. Murphy 52* (122 balls) and Sharif 32* (60 balls). McKiernan catching the eye with 3-34 from 18. All bowlers used giving good support with some outstanding economy rates. Raine 1-27 off 20, Dexter 0-44 of 17, Manthorpe 2-44 off 17. Shahzad 0-50 off 16.2. Dearden 0-26 off 6. Leicestershire 2 points, Northamptonshire 3 points.

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