Klein completes five-for at Blackpool

SCORE | Day 2, Second XI Championship: Lancashire Second XI 383 v Leicestershire Second XI 95-3


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

When we arrived at the ground for day two of the SEC between Lancashire CCC and Leicestershire CCC, we found that heavy overnight rain had taken its toll on the playing area at Blackpool CC’s Stanley Park ground.

After a lengthy and detailed inspection, the Umpires decided that lunch would be taken at 1.30pm, and that subject to no further rain play would commence at 3.10pm, with a minimum of 64 overs being available in the day.

It was now only 9.30am in the morning, so what does one do until lunch at 1.30pm? I decided to have a wander around and along the sea front, and surrounding area of Blackpool. I was grateful to a player, who shall remain nameless, for dropping me off in the town centre, my ‘personal Chauffer’ then returning to the ground for a net. Said player very kindly said he would pick me up at 1.00pm at a pre arranged point near the sea front. Sincere thanks, you know who you are, hoping you have time of course for a leisurely perusal of this literary masterpiece, thus noting my thanks. #monkeyemojiwithhandsovereyes.

I had not been on the sea front of Blackpool since 1993. I walked the entire length of the ‘Golden Mile’ taking in the North, Central and South Pier’s. Even walked the length of Central Pier as well. It was somewhat of an eye opener trawling round this ‘Skeg Vegas’ of the North West. The majority of people you see at this busy and bustling seaside resort are parents and grandparents, ensuring that their children and grandchildren have an enjoyable time in the last part of the summer holidays.

The abundance of amusement arcades were doing a brisk trade, Donkey Rides on the beach were well supported, even in view of the very strong wind that was blowing in from the sea. Horse-drawn carriages were going up and down the promenade with wide eyed excited children and adults on board. Groups of people were patiently queuing to go up Blackpool Tower. It all seemed a throw back to when Blackpool was the ‘King’ of holiday destinations.

I lost count of the number of pubs and bars I saw that claimed they were the Number One establishment in Blackpool. One bar had a cabaret on, running all day, that from 11.30am in the morning. I even saw a chap singing karaoke just after 12 noon in one place. After three hours of people watching and walking around, my knight in shining armour swept around the corner at the designated place to return me to Stanley Park.

Upon returning to the ground it was time to get stuck into lunch, as if I have not got enough to do! I sincerely hope you do not find my ‘Life in the Day’  too tedious a read, you will see that I don’t let the grass grow under my feet when there is ample time available to acclimatise one’s self to the locality one finds one’s self in (Editor’s note: exploring local parts of the UK is one of the many joys of being on the county circuit.) Rest assured I am not yet in the foot hills of turning dispatches from the front line into a Daily Blog (Editor’s note: could make a nice winter feature, makes note.)

After lunch, the players went through their pre-match warm up routines in readiness for the 3.10pm start. There had been some 70 or so people patiently waiting for play to commence. The majority of them were sitting on the veranda on the first floor of the pavilion with liquid refreshment readily at hand. Others were seated on the bank at the Sports Club End of the ground. The PA Announcer - Lester, all things Blackpool CC - thanked spectators for their patience just before play commenced. Joking apart this fella’ goes the extra mile, and is to be admired for his support and devotion to the Club, stalwart supreme.

Lancashire CCC were in the box seat at the end of the days play, finally being dismissed for 383. Haseeb Hameed carrying his bat for an outstanding 183 not out. Dieter Klein turned in an excellent performance with the ball taking five for 72 from 22.4 overs. In reply Leicestershire closed on 95-3 thanks to an unbroken partnership of 55 for the fourth wicket between Sam Evans 48* and Hassan Azad 19*, Leicestershire CCC trailing by 288 runs at the close of play.

The hosts resumed from their overnight 270 for seven with Haseeb Hameed 131* and Liam Hurt 35*. The Blackpool CC groundstaff put in a serious shift to make play possible, assisted by a prevailing strong drying wind. The players took to the field in sunny, but somewhat windy conditions.

County had an early breakthrough in the second over of the session when Hurt (40, 51b) was caught at first slip by Aadil Ali off Klein. Lancashire CCC now 276-8. Chris Sanders joined Hameed, and the pair developed a frustrating partnership for the ninth wicket. Hameed went to his 150 (168b, 21x4) when the score reached 309-8 after 71.2 overs. Sanders brought up a 50 partnership with Hameed from 69 balls.

The partnership had added 84 when Sanders (46, 61b) was caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary by Ben Mike off Aadil. Last man Tom Hartley joined Hameed. Earlier in the afternoon it had been announced that singer Aretha Franklin had sadly passed away. The kitchen at Blackpool CC is just a couple of doors from where the Scorers sit, and one of the staff was an avid Aretha fan. The playlist on a phone was belting out her songs at full blast. Garry, the Lancashire CCC scorer, and I were singing along, and swaying about in our seats in time to the music.

County took the new ball after 81 overs, Mike and Klein returning to the attack. Hameed and Hartley survived for 5.4 overs. Hartley (8, 24b) went caught at first slip by Aadil off Klein. Hartley like his namesake JR, (fly) fishing outside the off stump. Yellow Pages anyone? A fine spell of bowling over the innings by the left arm paceman Klein, returning very commendable figures of 22.4-4-72-5. Other wicket takers were Mike 3-108 from 21, Rob Sayer 1-66 from 14, and Aadil 1-5 from 2. Alex Evans only bowled two balls today, finishing off his unfinished over from last night. David Sayer and Oli Clarke bowled a further four and two overs respectively today. Lancashire CCC all out 383 from 86.4 overs.

Hameed undefeated on 183 (209b, 24x4), showing the form that earned him a place in the England test team. The innings finished at 4.55pm, and tea was taken. Leicestershire CCC had a minimum of 38 overs to bat in what remained of the day.

Skipper Evans and Harry Swindells opened the innings, against an opening attack of Liam Hurt and Chris Sanders. Evans played out a maiden from the quick Hurt, but Swindells (0) went first ball lbw to Sanders. The Swindler getting a delivery that kept low and rapped him on the shins. Aadil joined Evans, and took the attack to Lancashire taking three sweetly struck boundaries off Sanders, and one off Hurt.

Evans, meanwhile, was embarking on a gritty innings, receiving a fair bit of short stuff from Hurt. Sam the man swaying and bobbing out of the way in his own inimitable way with the minimum of fuss. It was a bit like a boxing Heavyweight in the shape of Hurt taking on a Bantamweight in the shape of Evans. Evans successfully repelling everything coming his way.

Aadil (24, 36b) went caught behind by keeper George Lavelle off Saunders. Aadil shaping as if to play a defensive stroke, then appearing to decide to leave the ball, but it clipped his bat on the way through. Aadil sportingly walking before the Umpire called his ‘digit of doom’ into action. Lewis Hill (0) was another first ball victim, playing down the wrong line to one from Sanders, and being bowled. Sanders having 3-20 from 5.1 at this stage.

It meant that Azad joined Evans, and these pair grafted, carving their runs out of granite. The Aretha Franklin tribute had been muted for a few overs, but was now back at full blast, finally coming to an end at around 6.20pm. RIP The Queen of Soul, Respect to you, and I am sure we will all Say a Little Prayer. I was a fan as well, and her music was the backdrop to many a good night out back in the day.

Evans was playing some perfectly timed cover drives, Azad watchful as ever, taking 19 balls to get off the mark. Evans and the left handed Azad standing firm against the bowling changes, Azad feasting on a diet of dot balls, perfect application from the nuggety number five. When I see Azad bat I always think of Dan Nice’s wallet, extremely hard to get out (Editor’s note: points at shoulder, that’s one for the over!)

The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 134 balls, the score 90-3 from 33.3. Azad takes root once established at the crease, you need a spade to dig him out, rather than a cricket ball to bowl him out. Just after 7pm we switched the TV on in our little retreat to watch the League Cup Draw, live on SkySports. Multitasking at its finest.

City drawn at home to Fleetwood town, and my oppo Garry’s Sheffield Wednesday at home to Wolves, if they beat Sunderland tonight (Editor’s note: my team actually drew at Blackpool at home, a bogey fixture of ours in the past, you couldn’t make it up!)

Great to see Sam Evans back in the runs, the captain unselfishly playing out a maiden in the last over of the day when on 48*. The skipper leading from the front. County closing on 95-3 from 38 overs Evans 48* (108b), Azad (19* (84b). The pair having soaked up 161 balls in their unbroken partnership of 55. Leicestershire CCC trailing by 288 runs. Lancashire CCC 5 points, Leicestershire CCC 4 points. Play for the day finishing at 7.50pm. A long day at the office.

* Leicestershire Second XI’s next home game is a 50-over friendly against Derbyshire Second XI at the Fischer County Ground on Tuesday, August 28. The game will start at 11.30am.