Rain curtails exciting end at Blackpool

RESULT | Second XI Championship: Lancashire Second XI 383 and 30-0 drew with Leicestershire Second XI 95-3 dec and 152-1


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

It was all change for day three of the SEC game between Lancashire CCC and Leicestershire CCC. Aadil Ali, Lewis Hill, Dieter Klein, and Harry Swindells all returning to the FCG for inclusion in the squad for Friday nights Vitality Blast fixture against Northants Steelbacks. Tom Wells also returning as a result of an injury.

Summoned up on a day trip to Blackpool as replacements were Leicestershire Academy players,  Sam Bates, Don Butchart, Jack Nightingale, and Ash Trusz. The bottom line of this is five out, four in, a net loss of one, so in effect Leicestershire had 11 players for day three as opposed to 12 that are permissible under SEC regulations. Wicket-keeper Sam Bates made his debut for Leicestershire Second XI.

Lancashire made three changes overnight as a result of Haseed Hameed, Shiv Chanderpaul, and Rob Jones being included in the Lancashire squad for their Specsavers County Championship match against Surrey at The Kia Oval. They were replaced by Tyler McGladerry and Taylor Cornwall. Liam Hurt taking over captaincy duties for the Red Rose County. Lancashire likewise going into day three with 11 players as opposed to 12.

The match was entering a crucial phase when rain came, and the match was abandoned as a draw with Leicestershire requiring a further 167 to win from a minimum of 28 overs, with nine wickets in hand. Sam Evans made a fine 74, well supported by Hassan Azad, undefeated on 56.

Leicestershire declared on their overnight 95-3, Evans 48*, Azad 19*, trailing by 288 runs after the first innings.

There were only a handful of spectators present when the players took to the field. The sky was overcast, and there was a strong wind blowing across the ground. Play started 10 minutes late as a result of light drizzle, two overs being lost, so a minimum of 94 overs remained available in the day.

The outfield at Blackpool CC has been remarkably green in appearance over the three days, not brown or parched, like the majority of outfields around the country following the lengthy spell of dry weather. One of the locals was of the opinion that a high tide affects the weather around these parts. The gentleman gave me a detailed overview as to how he had gleaned this information. This local font of knowledge then informed me that when flocks of seagulls circled, and hovered over the ground it was a sign that the tide was in.

Cornwall and Tyler McGladerry, both left handers, opened the innings for Lancashire CCC against an opening attack of David Sayer and Ben Mike. Lancashire CCC batted for just 7.2 overs declaring on 30-0. McGladerry 8*, Cornwall 15*. Leicestershire CCC being set a target of 319 to win from a minimum of 84 overs, an asking rate of 3.79 per over.

Leicestershire CCC commenced their innings at 11.52am with Evans and Azad opening for The Foxes. Just as the players were walking out the Lancashire CCC Physio delivered to me a finely presented cup of tea.

Evans set about the Lancashire bowling from the off taking Chris Sanders for five boundaries in his first two overs. Azad meanwhile was his usual self early doors in his innings having a good close look at the bowling. When Azad goes out to bat I imagine him having a ship’s anchor in his back pocket that he throws down when at the crease. He really does look the part, solid, and hard to remove. Evans became somewhat dismissive of the bowling as his innings progressed. The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 75 balls, and Leicestershire went into lunch on 63-0 from 15. Evans 36*, Azad 23*.

After lunch Evans went to his 50 (66b, 8x4), and the 100 partnership between Evans and Azad came up from 175 balls. At 2.33pm rain stopped play with County on 112-0. The players did not get back on the field until 3.50pm, tea having been taken during the stoppage. Leicestershire requiring a further 207 to win from a minimum of 37 overs.

Three spectators, hardy souls, had admirably remained at the ground for the entire time the players were off the field, sheltering from the rain underneath some trees at the Sports Club End of the ground. Superb dedication to the cause. Conditions were very gloomy by now. Evans’ (74, 114b) innings came to an end when he was bowled by Sanders.

Academy prospect Don Butchart joined Azad. Soon afterwards Azad went to his 50 (106b, 6x4). The score on 130-1 from 38.1 overs, Azad looking in no trouble whatsoever. When he is at the crease I can picture birds nesting on the stumps, as they would be in no danger at all of being disturbed. Azad had also pulled his anchor up, and had been notching up boundaries by caressing and guiding the ball to the boundary.

Butchart announced his arrival by smoting Sanders over square-leg for a maximum that went out of the ground, and resulted in a lost ball. The Don repeated the treatment in Sanders’ next over, launching him behind square for another maximum. The ball disappeared out of the ground again!

Butchart played out two dot balls immediately afterwards to finish off the over, and with rain falling the players left the field at 4.26pm. Azad 56* (111b) and Butchart 15* (22b). Leicestershire CCC requiring a further 167 to win from a minimum of 28 overs, an asking rate of 5.96 an over.

At 4.33pm with rain still falling, the payers shook hands, and the game was abandoned as a draw. Lancashire CCC 10 points, Leicestershire CCC 9 points. An enjoyable three days at this idyllic cricketing retreat, finely hosted by Blackpool CC.

* Leicestershire Second XI’s next fixture in the Second XI Championship is against Derbyshire CCC at Chesterfield from Monday to Wednesday.