Seconds pile on the runs at Desborough

Leicestershire v Northamptonshire, Second XI Championship, Day 2:

SCORECARD

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at Desborough Town CC for day two of the SEC between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to be greeted by yet again another dull leaden sky.

Only four wickets fell during the entire day’s play, the highlight of which was a stand of 269 for Leicestershire’s third wicket between Paul Horton (130) and Neil Dexter (169*). Horton and Dexter giving an absolute masterclass, Leicestershire racking up 352-3 in reply to Northamptonshire’s 323-7 declared.

There was a very sparse attendance when play commenced with Northamptonshire resuming on their overnight 250-6, David Murphy 52* and Safyaan Sharif 32*.

Play had been abandoned for the day the previous evening with 9.4 overs remaining. There were just seven diehard spectators in pockets of isolation around the boundary edge when play commenced.

The players took to the field in gloomy conditions, with no breeze to disturb the motionless clouds. Ajmal Shahzad had four balls remaining from his uncompleted over last night. Whilst he was in the process of reeling off those deliveries, the umpire at square-leg was peering admiringly at his light meter through the early morning gloom.

In the second over of the morning Matthew McKiernan, on at the Car Park End, bowled Sharif (33) when he attempted to play one when off the back foot. The heavy overhead cloud somehow miraculously disappeared during the first few overs of the morning. The crowd also built up during this time with spectators flocking into the ground, almost a further 30 of them easing themselves in to watch the action.

Amongst the assembled ensemble was our old friend T Murray Esq. Tim bid me his usual good morning in his own cheerful manner, when on his customary early morning boundary patrol. I replied ‘Tim, you are only half-dressed, where’s your cap?' Quick as a flash Tim plucked his cap from his regulation state of the art plastic carrier bag (Sainsburys 5p, same one as last week), and put it on his head. The speed of with which he did it reminded of a ‘quick on the draw’ gunslinger in the Wild West.

Simon Kerrigan, on loan from Lancashire, joined Murphy at the wicket. The pair brought up a 50 partnership from 69 balls when the score reached 309-7 from 107.1. Ben Raine was having no luck at all as Murphy when on 71 should have been caught at mid-on from a skier, but a couple of fielders appeared unsure as to which one of them should take the catch.

Murphy and Kerrigan had taken the score to 323-7 from 109 overs when Northamptonshire declared their inning’s. Murphy 92* (11x4) from 173 balls and Kerrigan 29* (3x4) from 36 balls. Special mention to Matthew McKiernan who returned figures of 4-64 from 25 overs, Matty’s best figures to date in the SEC. Dominic Manthorpe weighed in with 2-44 off 17 and Ben Raine 1-53 from 23.

County had 55 minutes to negotiate before lunch. Harry Dearden and Sam Evans opened the innings. Evans (0) was bowled by former LCCC left arm pace bowler Atif Sheikh. Sheikh rattling in from the Car Park End, and rolling out Evans second ball.

Horton joined Dearden, and the pair looked very comfortable. Dearden was accumulating, mainly on the leg-side, whilst Horton was making runs with classic on and off drives. Gareth Wade was bowling from the Farm Park End, and serving up quite a bit of short stuff, it was advantage Horton though as after one short pitched ball, Horton despatched the next delivery through mid-wicket for four.

In the last over before lunch, Dearden and Horton brought up their 50 partnership  from 66 balls. County went into Lunch on 53-1 from 12, Dearden 24* and Horton 18*. After lunch, Dearden had added 10 to his total when he got an edge to a ball from seamer Safyaan Sharif, and was caught by keeper Murphy. Dearden made 34 from 56 balls, including three fours.

Dexter joined Horton and the partnership that these two developed was scintillating, top quality batting by both of them. When you discuss driving you may immediately think of nearby Silverstone and Lewis Hamilton or Royal Birkdale, and Jordon Spieth, well throw Horton into the mix on a cricket field, his driving was exemplary.

Dexter was building a sublime innings, and words describing the superlative were queuing up to roll off the tongue. Dexter was going over the top on some occasions. These were not just any old shots, Dexter ‘The Delicate Destroyer’ was placing lofted shots between gaps in the field. If you can imagine a golfer chipping up to the green and landing within a couple of feet of the pin you have got the picture. The shots were going exactly where he meant them to, no chance of any of them offering a catch.

The pair of them gave a top-class performance by punishing the bad balls and treating the good balls with respect. Dexter going over the top so many times that a football referee would have had RSI by brandishing cards. A Chinook helicopter flew at low level close by the ground, but was a mere temporary distraction to this partnership of perfection.

The catalogue of culture from their pulsating partnership of 269 was as follows:

- Horton 50 (8x4 from 100 balls), at the same time their 50 partnership came up from 73 balls. 121-2 from 30.3.

- Dexter 50 (6x4,1x6 from 73 balls), 155-2 from 42.1.

- 100 partnership from 154 balls, 168-2 from 44. 

- Tea 206-2 from 56, Horton 83*, Dexter 76*.

- 150 partnership from 245 balls, 221-2 from 59.

- Dexter went to his 100 with a boundary through mid-wicket off seamer Harry Stow. (11x4,3x6) from 135 balls, 242-2 from 62.3.

- Next over Horton drove spinner Tom Sole through the covers for a boundary to bring up his 100 (14x4) from 190 balls, 248-2 from 63.2.

- 200 partnership from 288 balls, 269-2 from 66.1.

- Dexter 150 (17x4,4x6) from 179 balls, 322-2 from 80.2.

Horton innings came to a end 6.3 overs before the close of play when he was caught at long-off by Wade off Kerrigan, the score now being 337-3 from 82.3 overs.

A terrific innings by Horton - and a monumental partnership with Dexter. Raine joined Dexter, no messing about with a nightwatchman for the skipper! Dexter 169* (206 balls) and Raine 6* (19 balls) took County into stumps on 352-3 from 89 overs, a lead of 29 runs. Leicestershire 7 points, Northamptonshire 4 points.

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