Seconds in charge at Desborough

SCORE | Day 2, Second XI Championship: Northamptonshire Second XI 304 & 73 for 4 v Leicestershire Second XI 357


REPORT | By Pete Johnson


The weather was back to normal - sunny and warm - when we arrived at Desborough Town CC for day two of the SEC between Northamptonshire CCC and Leicestershire CCC. Upon arrival at the ground after my morning constitutional, I went and had a look round the nearby Farm Shop. This hive of activity was extremely busy even at 10.00am in the morning, with excited children and parents queuing up to gain admission.

Upon returning to the ground a chap came up to me and said ‘you want to get some signs up to help people find this place’. He had travelled down from Sheffield, but had no satnav. After politely appearing to be unmoved by his anger and frustration, I gave him a scorecard, which appeared to work as an olive branch, and diffuse his hostility. It’s amazing the soothing effect that an A4 sheet of paper can have at a cricket match.

Soon after he had left the immediate vicinity of my abode, it was a pleasure to exchange morning pleasantries with Carol, a lady of much respect as she serenely made her way to a secluded and shaded vantage point.

Leicestershire CCC had a good day, posting a total of 357 in reply to Northamptonshire CCC’s 304, a lead of 53. This was thanks to contributions from Hassan Azad 84*, Harry Dearden 67, Rob Sayer 58, and Richard Jones 47. There were 50+ partnerships along the way between Dearden & Ben Mike for the fourth wicket, Azad & Sayer for the seventh, and Azad and Jones for the ninth. County’s tail wagging 19 to the dozen. Northamptonshire CCC had 31 overs to bat after tea, and were reduced to 79-4, a lead of 26 runs.

Leicestershire CCC resumed on their overnight 57 for three, trailing by 247 runs. Dearden 20*. Mike 9*. Luke Bartier and Ben Cotton reeled off a few overs at the recommencement of Leicestershire CCC’s innings. Dearden was in imperious form, and took a quartet of boundaries in Bartier’s second over of the morning. The dogged and bullish left hander soon afterwards pushed Cotton through mid-wicket for 2 to bring up his 50 (10x4).

In the next over the 50 partnership came up between Dearden and Mike from 70 balls. A good performance by Mike, who is actually a bit of a ‘ringer’ when taking the role of nightwatchman. This fellow can certainly bat. After 12 overs of the morning, Dearden (67, 94b) was caught on the deep mid-wicket boundary by Drew Brierley off seamer Tom Heathfield.

A fine innings from Dearden, leading from the front. If a linesman had been officiating Dearden’s innings his arm would have ached, sticking his flag up, with so much action bordering on the off-side. Dearden punctuated his manipulation of the off-side though with a number of shots caressed through the mid-wicket area. A partnership of 72 had been forged, the highest of the match so far.

After a further 2.3 overs, Mike (31, 65b) went lbw to Ben Claydon. County 134-5 from 33.3. The night watchman had done his job, and could clock off content that he had put in a good shift, and had done what was required of him.

Sam Evans (5, 5b) was caught behind by keeper Adam King off Claydon. Azad & Rob Sayer then proceeded to wear down the Northants bowling. The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 61 balls. Both batsmen grew in confidence, and began to take on the Northants bowling. Sayer going downtown quite often, Azad wristily clipping and guiding the ball to vacant areas. The pair took Leicestershire into Lunch on 199-6 from 53 overs, Azad 27*, Rob Sayer 33*.

Off-spinner Tom Sole had bowled a spell angling for a wicket, but to no avail. Immediately after lunch I was doing a bit of spectator liaison work when a gentleman in a brown cap approached me. Yes, him! You know the one.

I was informed of Breaking News circulating the boundary edge that The Milky Bar Kid was born in Desborough. You know the little blonde-haired boy, aged about 7 or 8 with round glasses, who had a penchant for eating Nestle Milky Bars. He wore a cowboy’s outfit in the 1961 to 1966 advertisement. I was intrigued by such startling news, and immediately went into Google mode on phone.

I have yet to secure confirmation of this, and believe it may be ‘Chinese Whispers’ as my research has established that a Terry Brooks was The Milky Bar Kid from 1961 until 1966, but was not born in Desborough. However, there is a sub plot. From 1990 to 1993 The Milky Bar Kid was a bloke named Simon Desborough! The plot thickens the man with the brown cap has really put the cat amongst the pigeons. An option available is for me is to contact a beak at Mensa in an effort to resolve this extremely important conundrum.

Back to the cricket. Rob Sayer cut Sole square to the ropes to go to his 50 (85b, 6x4, 1x6). A second SEC half century for Rob Sayer in successive matches. One ball later the 100 partnership came up between Azad & Rob Sayer from 157 balls. Azad went to his 50 (91b, 8x4) four overs later with a cover drive to the ropes off Saif Zaib. The score now 259-6 from 63.4.

Rob Sayer (58, 97b) departed when he middled, with power, a long hop from Zaib, smacking it straight down Brierley’s throat at mid-on. Sayer caught in two minds as to whether to hit the ball for four or six.

Rob Sayer’s partnership with Azad added 125 runs, the highest of the match so far. Dieter Klein (12, 24b) went lbw to Zaib, 279-8 from 71.1 overs. Richard Jones then joined Azad, and played a belter of an innings. Jones the wickets in Northamptonshire CCC’s innings, now became Jones the runs. The pair posted another 50 partnership, the third of the innings, from 90 deliveries after 86 overs.

Northamptonshire CCC had taken the new ball after 85 overs in an effort to dislodge the pair. Jones played a copybook flick through mid-wicket for fours off Cotton, followed by another boundary. Azad was piercing the field with regularity taking ones, twos and fours, along with an isolated three. You will not see finer precision piercing in a Tattoo Parlour.

Azad can comfortably adapt to the role of Brigadier Block or The Enforcer. The pair had added 77 for the ninth wicket when Jones (47, 84b) was caught at mid-wicket by Bartier from a short ball, threaded through by Cotton. Jones unfortunately not bobbing out of the way to one from Cotton.

You know what that means, nine down with tea due, but put on hold for 30 minutes or until the tenth wicket falls, whichever comes first. David Sayer (0, 9b) went bowled by Bartier. Azad 84* from 140 balls. A superb innings from the reliable, durable, and barnacle-like left-hander. Leicestershire CCC held a first innings lead of 53 runs.

Tea was taken. I have not mentioned my colleague Q as yet today. Well, he’s been there all right, firing on all cylinders. We have put the world to rights, done a trawl around many of the lower league football grounds in the country, discussed many a cricket match, and even delved into the world of Confessions of a Second XI Scorer. I won’t go into detail on that as this website is family friendly.

Also, if Q owned a racehorse he tells me he would call it South East Iceland, now you know what that is don’t you? It’s not a store for frozen goods in the Home Counties for starters. (Our esteemed Editor will know as he poked his nose in yesterday saying that he had connections who have served in the Royal Navy).

I also said to Q that there were only two people I knew of called Quentin, Quentin Crisp and Quentin Hogg (Lord Hailsham). Q immediately stuck a couple of others in the back of the net. Quentin Tarantino (Film Chappie), and Quentin Sommerville (BBC Middle East Correspondent). I am in a very select band of people in being on friendly terms with a chap named Quentin. A real good egg he is too, if I may respectively say so. We have been approached by Sky to see if some of our future chats could be featured live, after the watershed of course, it would be an insomniac’s haven.

There were 31 overs left in the day, and County reduced Northamptonshire CCC to 73-4. Charlie Thurston (0, 2b) went caught at second slip by Rob Sayer off Jones. Emelio Gay (11, 32b) all but fell over in the crease, going lbw to Klein.

Ben Curran (26, 49b) was caught at long leg by Azad off Mike, and finally Brierley (2, 12b) was caught behind by Harry Swindells off Sayer. Northamptonshire CCC closing on 73-4 from 31 a lead of 26 runs. 

Zaib 33* (55b) had played a dogged innings, resisting well. Charlie Home (3*, 38b) was with him at the close. Northamptonshire CCC 8 points, Leicestershire CCC 8 points.

* The third and final day of the SEC game between Northamptonshire Second XI and Leicestershire Second XI at Desborough Town CC starts at 11am today (Thursday).