Seconds dominate in Northants draw

Leicestershire v Northamptonshire, Second XI Championship, Day 3:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

A pleasant late summer's morning greeted us when we arrived at Desborough Town CC for the third and final day of the SEC encounter between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. It was a nice change to the dull weather experienced over the first two days.

The game ended in a draw, Leicestershire being bowled out for 501, a first innings lead of 178, with a minimum of 57 overs left in the day. The game was meandering towards a draw, when two wickets in 2 balls by Neil Dexter kicked some life back into it, but County were unable to force a victory. The captains shaking hands just after the final hour began with Northamptonshire on 154-5 trailing by 24 runs.

Leicestershire resumed on their overnight 352-3, Neil Dexter 169* Ben Raine 6*. There was an official attendance of 14 present when the players took to the field, but numbers built up rapidly during the first hour of play.

This fixture has generated good spectator numbers for a Second XI game, the location being handy for both Leicestershire and Northamptonshire followers. I am sure all of the players are appreciative of the time, and effort taken by spectators to make the somewhat lengthy journey to Desborough.

Harry Adair took over wicket-keeping duties from David Murphy on day three, Murphy taking a fielding role. Dexter (169) was out in the fourth over of the morning, bowled by Harry Stow. I was waxing lyrical about Dexy in my report yesterday, so I won’t go over old ground again, but The Midnight Runners and Eileen are still talking about it. It was an innings that oozed class.

Zak Chappell joined Raine and the pair pushed the score along. Raine hit a couple of powerful boundaries off seamers Stow and Sharif, whilst Chappell executed a reverse sweep to the ropes off Kerrigan amongst his quartet of boundaries.

Raine (28 from 55 balls) was caught at the wicket by Adair off Kerrigan when attempting a reverse sweep. 396-5 off 101.4. Chappell was joined by Fazakerley, however 6.1 overs later, Chappell (22 from 39 balls) was caught low down at cover by Sharif again off Kerrigan.

Ben Mike joined Fazakerley with County 408-6 from 107.5 overs. We were then treated to a delightful bit of improvisation by Fazakerley. The big fella daintily tiptoed across his stumps and scooped seamer Stow over the wicket-keeper’s head for a maximum. In Stow’s next over Faz, did the same again, but this time the ball went for four.

Straight after that ball I witnessed something that I had only seen as a young boy, playing cricket on the ‘Reccy’ (steady on, I know this is a family friendly website). Northants Skipper Tom Sole posted a longstop! Yes, a longstop, Ewan Cox fielding on the boundary directly behind the wicket-keeper. No reflection on the keeper, but a good deterrent for the improvised scoop shot.

Mike, meanwhile, was playing an excellent supporting role. Fazakerley launched a straight maximum off Stow, but next ball was caught at long off by Murphy. Fazakerley posted 44 from 53 balls (3x4,2x6).

Harry Swindells joined Mike, who took over the aggressor role from Fazakerley. Mike took a maximum off seamer Stow, and despatched spinners Zaib and Kerrigan to the ropes. County into lunch on 469-7 from 119, Mike 23* and Swindells 2*. Only one run had been added after lunch when Swindells (2) took one for the team, bowled, off his gloves, when attempting to sweep Kerrigan. How’s your luck Harry?

Ajmal Shahzad joined Mike, who took consecutive boundaries off the quite rapid Wade, but was bowled next ball by the tall paceman. Mike made 33 from 40 balls (4x4/1x6). Mike, a member of the LCCC Academy, is an exciting prospect as he commences his cricketing journey.

Matthew McKiernan joined Shahzad, who was keeping the score ticking over taking singles regularly. McKiernan meanwhile launched seamer Wade down the ground and the Umpire signalled six, subsequently the umpire then reversed his decision and signalled four.

A gentleman sitting in a chair on the boundary edge informed the umpire the ball had fallen centimetres short of a maximum. The gentleman in question was wearing a brown cap. You don’t argue with Tim, it is not everyone that has got a Rugby Union ground in Scotland named after them.

County’s innings came to an end when McKiernan (8) was stumped by Adair off Kerrigan. Shahzad 12*, County all out for 501, a lead of 178 runs. Left arm spinner Simon Kerrigan taking 5-128 from a marathon 40.3 overs.

Between innings, I was busily doing all the bits and bobs that a person with my countless responsibilities has to do at the end of an innings, when I had a delivery. That ‘Wonder Man of the Werthers’, Ray Medland, walked across the front of the scorebox, and furtively, but very discreetly, placed a bag of Werthers behind the open lid of my laptop, not a word was said, and Ray did not even have to break stride. Good old Raymondo, sincere thanks. I have just about sucked myself inside out over the three days.

Charlie Thurston and Ewan Cox opened up for the Steelbacks who trailed by 178 runs with a minimum of 57 overs remaining. They had put on 41 when Cox (12) edged Raine behind and was caught by keeper Swindells.

Saif Zaib joined Thurston, but was soon on his way when getting underneath one from leg-spinner McKiernan, it went a long way up in the air, and Dexter took the catch at an orthodox mid-wicket position.

Three overs later Northants were in a bit of trouble. Thurston (37) went lbw to Dexter, and next ball Adair (0) was bowled by Dexter. Adair standing motionless after offering a straight bat, only to be bowled by a jaffa, Northamptonshire 60-4 from 15.5.

The Steelbacks went into tea on 68-4 from 20. Murphy 3* and David Davies 7*. The visitors were trailing by 110 with a minimum of 37 overs remaining. Just after tea, Davies had a fortunate escape. He was bowled by Shahzad but it was a no ball. The ball rocketed off the stumps, and went for four. Very harsh on the bowler Shahzad as it goes down as 6 no-balls.

Any hope County had of forcing a victory was all but strangled by Murphy and Davies. They brought up a 50 partnership from 87 balls with the score on 111-4. Davies (26) eventually went caught behind by Swindells off Dominic Manthorpe, just reward for the bowler, who had seen several edges dissect the slips.

The last hour was signalled at 5.33pm with Northants on 145-5 and a minimum of 16 overs remaining. The teams shook hands on a draw after a couple of further overs with Northants on 154-5. Murphy 40* and Sole 24*. Dexter picked up 2-11 from 5, Raine 1-14 from 6, Manthorpe 1-35 from 8 and McKiernan 1-38 from 12. Leicestershire 12 points, Northamptonshire 9 points.

Sincere thanks to all the volunteers at Desborough Town CC, especially Mick, and his helpers Sam, and Adam for their work on the ground. Also to Elaine for her sterling work in the kitchen, works very hard with a smile on her face. Also thanks to Elaine’s ‘wingwomen’ Maggie, and the lady over from New Zealand, whose name escapes me, for their stint in the kitchen on day three.

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