Four half-centurions for Seconds

Kent v Leicestershire, Second XI Friendly (4-day), Day 1


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Leicestershire took on Kent in a four-day SEF at Beckenham CCG (Beckenham County Cricket Ground). The ground is only used for a handful of games in the season, and no club side have use of the ground. Four days is unchartered waters in the scoring stakes for yours truly. Just another day at the office for this ambidextrous artisan.  

Beckenham is in the London Borough of Bromley. It will seem like we are on part time hours with just 96 overs allocated to each day unlike the 104 overs that is standard for day one and day two of SEC matches. 

The times of intervals during the match will ‘mirror’ a First XI four-day fixture. Beckenham CCG is not to be confused with the nearby Beckenham CC, well-known ‘old boys’ of Beckenham CC include ex Kent & England players Derek Underwood, Richard Ellison, and Robert Key. 

In the showbiz world the late Bob Monkhouse (he of the dancing eyebrows) was born in Beckenham, so there have no doubt been a few Golden Shots (can anyone remember that programme from the early 1970s on the TV on Sunday afternoons?) played on this ground. 

Talking of the Golden Shot, when people nowadays here the name Bolt, just one name springs to mind, Usain. However, people of a certain age, like me, will associate the name Bolt with good old Bernie! Also, talking of Beckenham, I thought it was about time he nearly had a place named after him.....David, you know the one I mean? Right, South London seminar completed, here we go then.

The day’s play ended just about even, County just possibly holding the upper hand until they lost two wickets late in the day which evened up proceedings somewhat. There were half-centuries for Paul Horton, Neil Dexter, Ned Eckersley and Ben Raine.

All three batsmen got themselves in, and then getting out, rather like me when I go to bed after a little too much liquid intake. In the latter part of the day Raine made an undefeated half century. It was good to see Raine, along with Dexter and Zak Chappell, back in a Foxes line up. 

Eckersley was skippering County, called correctly, and had no hesitation whatsoever in deciding to bat. The players took to the field on a sunny morning, The Shard and Canary Wharf looming large, at the City End of the ground, and the training ground of Crystal Palace FC being a backdrop to the Pavilion End. 

Horton and Dearden got County off to an excellent start. Horton with some characteristic cover drives plus a deliberate lofted shot over the slips off the face of the bat. Dearden also found the ropes with a couple of cover drives and a textbook leg glance. Their 50 partnership came up after 16 overs, and their 100 partnership after 27.4 overs. 

Paceman Grant Stewart was firing in a considerable amount of short pitched deliveries, Horton and Dearden ducking as much as an opponent of Anthony Joshua does in the ring. County went into lunch on 102-0 from 28 overs. Immediately after lunch, Horton went to his 50 (9x4) from 97 balls, with the score on 106 without loss from 28.5 overs. 

The score had moved on to 111 when Dearden (48) was caught in the wide mid-on area from a short ball from Stewart. Dexter joined Horton, Dexter’s first scoring shot being a maximum from the bowling of spinner Adam Riley. The pair had added 11 runs when Horton (58) was victim to an excellent diving catch at second slip by Riley off Stewart. 

Eckersley joined Dexter and the pair developed the highest partnership of the innings. They rattled up a 50 alliance from 62 balls when the score reached 173-2 from 49.1 overs. Dexter went to his 50 (7x4, 2x6) from 77 balls. 

The 100 partnership came up from 125 balls with the score on 222-2 from 59.4 overs. During their partnership, umpire Ben Debenham was signalling fours with military precision, his signalling arm being gun barrel straight, parallel to the ground, and his stance akin to that of a guardsman. 

Eckersley added symmetry, as when he runs a comfortable single he grasps the handle of the bat with one hand, and the bottom of the bat with the other.  The blade of Eckersley’s bat also gun barrel straight, and also parallel with the ground. 

Captain Eckersley went to his 50 (10x4) from 61 balls with an effortless reverse sweep off Riley, County on 232-2 from 61 overs.

Without adding to the total, Dexter (62) went caught at first slip by Adam Ball off spinner Jan Gray. Dexter’s innings included three maximums. Dexter going over a few times, a combative midfield destroyer Crystal Palace’s training ground would have looked on approvingly. 

During the course of the day’s play aeroplanes were passing over the ground at extremely regular intervals, climbing into the sky as they departed Stansted Airport. It’s a steep learning curve to replace the legendary Blowers on TMS but one has to start somewhere. 

County went into tea on 240-3 from 64 overs. After tea Eckersley (66) went caught behind by keeper Jordan Cox off medium pacer Ollie Hills, Eckersley made 66, not taking root, but Ollie’s Auntie Beverley would have been delighted. 

Raine joined Evans (18), who had been nudging singles here and there, but met his demise when caught at slip by Ball off Gray. 

Will Fazakerley came in to partner Raine, and the pair soon had the new ball to contend with. Raine was digging in, treating the bowling respectfully, but also giving the treatment to deliveries that warranted it. 

Stewart was working up a decent pace, sprinkled with his customary dosage of intermittent short pitched balls. Raine and Fazakerley posted a 50 partnership from 91 balls when the score reached 323-5 from 92 overs. Fazakerley (16) then went caught at a deepish square leg by Zak Crawley off Ball.

Chappell joined Raine but went without scoring when he was caught at third slip thanks to a superb diving catch by Sean Dickson off the bowling of Charlie Hartley.

Raine went to his 50 (9x4) from 70 balls in the last over of the day, then digging in for Bed & Breakfast. A fine knock by the returning Ben ‘Nelson’ Raine.

You may wonder where I have conjured up the moniker ‘Nelson’ from. Well there are only two blokes that I know that have a column, Lord Horatio in Trafalgar Square, and Benjamin Alexander (Raine) in the Leicester Mercury. At stumps Leicestershire were on 334-7 from 96. Raine 50*, Ben Mike 0*.