Azad leads Seconds to outstanding win

RESULT | Second XI Friendly (50 overs): Leicestershire Second XI 399 for 6 beat Kent 398 for 6 by 4 wickets


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Leicestershire CCC took on Kent CCC in a one-day Second XI Freindly (SEF) at the Park Road home of Loughborough Town CC. The match was originally scheduled to be a four-day SEF, but the format was changed to a one-day SEF, followed by a three-day SEF. The one-day SEF will be of 50 overs per side.

I remember being on this ground on Sunday 2nd August 1970 to watch a John Player League Match, between Leicestershire & Nottinghamshire. The date will be etched into my memory forever as my father passed away the next day.

What a thrilling day’s cricket we had 797 runs scored for the loss of 12 wickets. Leicestershire winning by four wickets. The winning runs coming from the fourth ball of the final over. Leicestershire fielded a very young side with five Academy players plus three triallists. The only contracted players in the Leicestershire side being Aadil Ali, Harry Swindells and Tom Wells.

Kent posted 398-6 from their allotted 50 overs with Oliver Robinson weighing in with a superb 155. When Leicestershire commenced their innings I thought Brexit negotiations would be easier than chasing down that total, but how wrong I was. Hasan Azad racked up a tremendous match-winning innings of 179 not out. He was supported along the way by Tom Wells 76, Aadil Ali 48 and Ben Mike 48.

Aadil Ali skippered County, his opposite number Mitchell Claydon called incorrectly, and Leicestershire chose to field.

There were a good number of spectators present when the players took to the field. The majority were taking refuge from the hot sun beneath the array of trees that surround the ground. Robinson and Harry Came opened up for Kent against an opening attack of Mike and Harry Funnel.

Robinson was out of the blocks like lightning, the pair posting a 50 partnership from 45 balls, Robinson 44* Came 0*. I hope a gentleman of a similar sounding name gets off the mark quicker in Russia! To be fair to Came he only faced nine balls in the 50 partnership. Robinson went to his 50 (8x4) from 37 balls with the score on 62-0. The hundred partnership came up after 15 overs.

The pair rattled up a 150 partnership after 24.2 overs. Came went to his 50 (4x4) from 72 balls. Robinson soon afterwards going to his hundred (9x4,2x6) from 89 balls. Robinson posting his 100 with a maximum that went straight over long-on. The partnership had added 190 when Came (57) edged Academy seamer Jacob Bailey to ‘keeper Swindells.

Alex Blake joined Robinson and put the County attack under pressure. The left-handed Blake raced to his 50 (4x4,3x6) from 31 balls. The pair had added 103 for the second wicket when Blake (61) was superbly caught by Don Butchart running around from wide long-off of the bowling of Mike. Kent  293-2 off 38.1 overs.

At this juncture a gentleman passed in front of the Scorers wearing a top hat, waist coat, and was also attired in shirt sleeve order.  Initially I thought I was hallucinating, and ventured outside my territory to get a closer look. Tim Murray’s brown ‘ratting cap’ pales into insignificance alongside this attire.

Meanwhile Mosun Hussain (who made appearances for Leicestershire 2s last season) joined Robinson (155), who went caught by Aadil at extra cover off Funnell. Robinson’s 150 (12x4, 5x6) from 117 balls, his innings encompassing 121 balls.

The final 10.2 overs of the Kent innings added exactly 100 runs. Don Manuwelge (6) went bowled by Wells, Mosun Hussain (38) went caught at deep mid-wicket by James Dickinson from the bowling of off-break bowler Butchart. Will MacVicar (41) was superbly run out by a direct hit from Butchart. MacVicar came back to the bowler’s end at pace for a second run off the bowling of Funnell, but Butchart, fielding halfway back, threw down the stumps. A wicket, a catch, and a run out for ‘The Don’.

Kent closed on 398-6. Grant Stewart 13* Mitchell Claydon 1*. Special shout out also for wicket ‘keeper Swindells, who did not concede any byes in the imposing total.

Swindells and Azad opened the innings for Leicestershire with an asking rate of 7.98 per over required for victory. Swindells (17) went when he drilled one straight to Imran Qayyum at cover off the bowling of Claydon. County 33-1 from 6.2. Aadil joined Azad, and the pair kept the score ticking along nicely.

Aadil was timing the ball sweetly and finding the ropes regularly with his trademark powerful shots. Azad meanwhile was playing the role of the silent partner but would make his presence known bigtime later in the proceedings. The pair posted a 50 partnership from 45 balls when the score reached 83-1 from 13.4.

Aadil (48, 39b) went caught behind by ‘keeper Robinson when he gloved a lifter from seamer Miles Richardson. Leicestershire 95-2 from 15.4 overs. Wells joined Azad, the all-rounder on the home ground of his club side, Loughborough Town.

Wells and Azad accelerated Leicestershire’s run chase. Azad posted a run a ball 50 (5x4) when the score reached 147-2 from 23.5, this also coincided with the 50 alliance between the pair. The scorers were then radioed by the Umpires giving notice of a large black cloud that was appearing behind the ‘suite. We duly kicked the DLS into action, putting the DLS on the Scoreboard in the ‘Last Man’ slot. Thankfully the black cloud diverted to the east of Loughborough.

Wells went to his 50 (7x4, 1x6) from 46 balls, the score 183-2 from 27.3. Soon afterwards Wells cracked Claydon for three consecutive boundaries in the 30th over. Azad and Wells raised a 100 partnership from 84 balls. Wells (76, 60b) went caught at mid-wicket by MacVicar off the bowling of Claydon. Charlie Lowen (2) went in identical fashion, Lowen also having appeared for Leicestershire 2s in the past, and another player playing on his home club ground.

Azad meanwhile was still there, and about to go into lift off mode. Leicestershire 227-4 from 33.1, still needing 172 from 16.5.

Lachlan Agnew joined Azad. Agnew is the overseas player for Newtown Linford CC, and was making his debut in this level of cricket. Not very often that Newtown Linford have a player turning out at this level, and there were several people with Newtown Linford connections at the ground. The wheels of industry must have been turning very slowly during the day with so many lynchpins of the commercial world dwelling on the boundary edge, plus yours truly of course at the coalface!

Lachlan is no relation whatsoever of Aggers, ex LCCC, and of TMS fame! Agnew (10) struck a couple of boundaries  but was caught and bowled by Stewart when trying to swat a short of a length delivery. Leicestershire 255-5 from 37.2 overs, 144 required from 12.4.

Mike, another player on his home club ground, joined Azad, and the pair forged a partnership that put County within touching distance of victory. Azad went to a tremendous 100 (10x4) from 87 balls. Azad and Mike posted a 50 partnership from just 27 balls, the score on 305-5 from 41.5 overs. The pair were complementing each other; Azad improvising wonderfully with an array of shots, scoops, ramp shots, orthodox pulls and cuts, finding the gaps in the field with aplomb. Mike blasted left arm seamer Oliver Hills for three boundaries in the 45th over. In the same over Azad went to his 150 (20x4) from 108 balls.

In the 46th over the pair brought up their 100 partnership, when the score reached 357-5 from 45.3. With the game on a knife edge we had an interlude of canine capers when a loose dog ran onto the outfield, and the game was held up, whilst said animal was rounded up. Not wishing to name names, but the Loughborough Town CC Captain, and some members of his immediate family, may be enrolling on a Dog Obedience course in the very near future.

Mike (48) went caught at mid-off by Manuwelge from a short ball by Claydon, a fine innings from Mike off just 31 balls, Leicestershire now requiring 20 to win from 14 balls. Butchart joined Azad, and took a single from the second ball he received, the last ball of the 48th over.

The Kent opening bowlers Claydon and Stewart were bowling the final overs. Butchart played a dot from the first ball of the penultimate over from Stewart and took a single off the next ball. Azad took a single off the third, leg bye Butchart off the fourth, single Azad off the fifth, and two to Butchart off the last.

It left 12 to win off the final over which was bowled by Claydon from the Pavilion End. Azad scooped the first ball for four down to fine-leg, took two to long-on off the second ball, and dispatched the third ball to the ropes through cover. The fourth ball yielded two byes, County getting home by four wickets with two balls remaining.

The left-handed Azad made a magnificent 179 not out from 122 balls that included 25 boundaries. Butchart 4*. A thoroughly enjoyable game with both sides contributing to the spectacle. It was ironic that the winning runs came from two byes, the only byes in a match yielding 797 runs.

All this frenetic action taking place whilst many spectators were keeping one eye on their phones for updates on proceedings at Wantage Road in the Specsavers County Championship game. A great day for Leicestershire CCC with the First XI getting back to back Championship victories, and the Second XI delivering magnificently. From a personal point of view, very well done to all involved, and that includes all of the back room staff of course.

At the end of a pulsating day of cricket I made my way to the Clubhouse to freshen up. There propping up the bar was the gentleman I mentioned earlier still resplendent in top hat, waistcoat, and finely pressed shirt sleeves. I made a point of saying to him how very much impressed I was with his immaculate attire. Good effort Sir!

* Thanks to everyone at Loughborough Town CC hosting the fixture. We visit the venue again for the next three days as the two sides now meet in a three-day Friendly. Admission is free for all three days.