Batsmen dig in to secure draw at Park Road

SCORE | Day 3, Second XI Friendly (3 days): Leicestershire Second XI 327 all out & 276 for 4 drew with Kent Second XI 563 for 6 dec


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

There were a number of matters that needed urgent attention upon my arrival at Park Road, Loughborough for the third and final day of the SEF between Leicestershire and Kent. I breezed in to the car park just before 9.00am, and remained in the car, glued to my phone, as the Premiership Football fixtures for 2018/2019 were being released at 9.00am prompt. By 9.03am I had a full awareness of my destinations, following Leicester City, from mid-August up until the end of September. All that remains is to wait until Sky and BT Sport have had the opportunity to revise some kick off times. Mrs J will be given a full debrief of my impending movements during late summer and early autumn upon my arrival back at Chateaux Johnson later this evening.

Upon entering the ground I was informed by Andy, the Kent scorer that Kashif Ali and Will Gidman had been called into the Kent First XI squad for their Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-final against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge today. I was also informed that Sam Bates, who was Leicestershire’s 13th man in effect for the 3 day SEF (you can name 12 players in a SEF, of which he was not one of the 12 named, had been loaned to the Kent side and would be keeping wicket for them). The rules for SEC and SEF state that if a player or players are called up to the First XI during a match their replacement(s) can take a full part in the match, and do not go down as a substitute in the grand scheme of things. The team changes for Kent made for a little revising of the teams on the computer system.

Last, but by no means least, when I had set up my full battery of apparatus, and made said changes, I made my way to the Clubhouse for a well-earned cup of coffee and a sit down beckoned. Who should I bump into on the pavilion veranda, at such an unearthly hour in the morning? Jen from the Office, the FCG Office of course, not The Office! The Lady Jennifer here yesterday, again today, bit like a boomerang, always coming back! After the exchange of pleasantries and a brief discussion it was 9.40am before I got to partake of my morning coffee. I felt worn out before the day had started.

Whilst in the clubhouse we were informed that Kent had declared on their overnight 563 for 6. Yet more work to do on the computer before the game has even started. By this time it is 10.55am, the Umpires are walking out, and I haven’t even picked the morning paper up!

I hope my battalion of readers (I have got a very vivid imagination) did not find it too tedious reading through my preamble. I feel it is good sometimes to get a backdrop to proceedings in addition to, what you see ‘Before Your Very Eyes’, as good old Arthur Askey would say. Hope you agree Playmates! Any reader long in the tooth, like me, will remember those catch phrases that were a trademark of Arthur back in the 1950s.

Kent declared overnight with a lead of 236 over Leicestershire, and a minimum of 96 overs being available on day three. Leicestershire bounced back admirably from their day in the field yesterday posting a score of 276 for 4 before the players shook hands on a draw at 5.00pm. Opening batsman Charlie Lowen posted a century making 112, and played the major part in saving the game. Harry Swindells weighed in with yet another score, this time 70, and Chesney Hughes backed up his fine batting and bowling on the first two days with 54.

A bright morning with a stiff breeze greeted the players as they took to the field, the sun piercing its way through the high fluffy clouds. The boundary was very sparsely populated with spectators, just a few very familiar faces on view. Thursday is Market Day in Loughborough so that could have held some attraction.

Swindells and Lowen opened the innings for County against a pace attack of Grant Stewart and Miles Richardson.  As is becoming customary Swindells was very fast out of the blocks taking Stewart for three boundaries in the 7th over, a boundary off Richardson in the 8th over, and a further boundary off Stewart in the 9th. Swindells boundaries encompassing mid-wicket, square-leg, backward square-leg, and third man. Lowen despatching Richardson for a solitary boundary through the covers. The 50 partnership came up after 10.3. Prior to the start of play ‘Super John’, our very own Tea Guru, and loyal Second XI follower, asked what time we would like our in play cuppas delivered. 12 noon was my succinct reply. John arrived with said mugs at 12.01pm, one minute late. I tactfully told him he must tighten up on his timekeeping during the afternoon session.

Swindells went to a bullish 50 (8x4) from 66 balls when the score reached 76-0 from 19.4 overs. Three overs later the hundred partnership came up. Swindells on 70 and Lowen on 23. Swindells (70) was on his way back to the pavilion from the very next ball. Left arm seamer Oliver Hills dropped one in short, Swindells pirouetted, middled the ball, but did not get quite enough distance on it. Richardson took the catch at deep square-leg, diving forward. County 100-1 from 23 overs, still trailing by 136 runs.

Aadil Ali joined Lowen. Aadil(10) had a brief stay at the crease. He stroked leg spinner Jan Gray to the ropes. Leicestershire ‘Sub Academy’ keeper, and Loughborough Town 1st XI player (and ex Newtown Linford CC, better not miss that bit out!) Bates, playing for Kent on the day, cheekily whipped the bails off when Aadil went forward to one from Gray, but Aadil was in his ground. In the last over before Lunch Aadil (10) was caught behind by Bates, another victim for left arm seamer Hills. A good catch by Bates, diving to his right, taken two-handed just off the ground.

In last Monday’s game Hills was alive to the sound of music, today Beverley was beside herself on the boundary when he took a wicket. I can imagine Sam Bates had the feeling you get when you score a goal against a club you have played for in the past. Feels great, but don’t want any of the supporters of your old club to see you celebrating. Leicestershire into lunch on 112-2 from 28.1 overs, Lowen 26* from 82 balls.

The afternoon session belonged to County as Lowen and Hughes remained together until tea, all but securing a draw for the Foxes. Lowen was in for the long haul, not that he had his flight socks on beneath his flannels, and went to his 50 (8x4) from 110 balls when the score reached 152-2 from 39.2. Hughes was being very circumspect playing many dot balls, fully aware of the mission to secure the draw.

Lowen and Hughes posted a 50 partnership from 80 balls when the score reached 163-2 from 41.3 overs. Immediately afterwards at 2.40pm , on the dot, John appeared asking if we required mid afternoon refreshment. Timing perfect, (no doubt after my quiet word following him being a minute late in the morning session), the precision of a Swiss watchmaker ably demonstrated by the genial cricket aficionado.

Lowen was now becoming the aggressor taking boundaries off seamer Stewart and spinner Gray at regular intervals. Hughes was meanwhile feasting on a diet of dots, ones and twos. Lowen and Hughes took County safely into tea on 213-2, from 60, still trailing by 23 runs. Lowen 91* Hughes 31*. Play recommenced after Tea at 4.02pm, the World Cup was under way in Russia. The first ball Leicestershire received after the tournament got under way was pushed to short extra by Lowen, dot ball. A ‘moment in time’ observation from my catalogue of useless information!  

In the 4th over after tea Lowen, went to his century in spectacular fashion. He deposited off spinner Harry Came for a maximum over long on. Lo ‘n’ behold a century for Charlie!  A patient, and workmanlike innings that got its rich reward. Lowen’s 100 coming from 200 balls (15x4, 1x6). Shortly afterwards Lowen (112) departed the action when he was caught by Adam Khan at wide mid-on off the bowling of Gray. Leicestershire 243-3 with a minimum of 29.3 overs remaining.

My Colleague Andy whilst operating the acknowledgement light, was keeping us abreast of the score at Trent Bridge in the Nottinghamshire v Kent game, and also reporting on goals in the Russia v Saudi Arabia World Cup match. You may think this scoring lark is all about watching a cricket match, we have many such other matters to deal with.

Tom Wells joined Hughes, and the pair had to rubber stamp that the game be made safe. Hughes went to a solid, in line with what the occasion demanded, 50 (5x4) from 108 balls, the score on 258-3 with a minimum of 27.4 overs available. Soon afterwards the left handed Hughes (54) from 115 balls was unfortunately run out. He played the ball to square-leg, set off for a single, Wells sent him back, he appeared to slip a little, Khan arrowed the ball in over the stumps, and Bates whipped the bails off, actually bail, always good for a keeper to be very tidy in his work, why have to pick two bails up afterwards, when one is perfectly sufficient. County 262-4 a minimum of 25.3 overs remaining.

Russia 5 Saudi Arabia 0, full time. Lachlan Agnew joined Wells, and the pair successfully continued to thwart the Kent spin attack, the players shaking hands on a draw at 5.00pm. Match Drawn. Leicestershire 276-4. Wells 9*(36 balls), Agnew 10* (28 balls). Finally a word for Sam Bates keeping wicket to bowlers he had never kept to before, and called into the side at a minutes notice, turned in an accomplished performance. 276 runs, 79 overs, and no byes. County Second XI debut, albeit for Kent.

An absolute pleasure to spend four days in a very confined space with Andy (Bateup) the Kent Scorer. There is not much that you do not know about a bloke after spending four days with him in a very confined space, but it was not until day four that I found out that Andy was a top class Ballroom Dancer, back in the day, dancing to a very high standard. He tells me he travelled onto the continent to take part in some competitions, coming back victorious on occasions. My knowledge of Ballroom Dancing extends beyond Strictly!, and even Tess and Claudia for that matter. We even had a brief discussion on a dance that you don’t see much of nowadays, The Military Two Step.

Finally, before leaving Loughborough a very sincere word of thanks to the superb Catering Team, who did a thoroughly magnificent job. Catherine, Nita, Nicki, and Sam, top marks to each and every one of you. Nothing was too much trouble, you were all a credit to Loughborough Town CC, and they should be very proud of your effort and commitment. Not forgetting Lindsey from the FCG who gave support on Monday & Thursday. Last, but by no means least, sincere thanks to Paul the Loughborough Town Groundsman, 1,963 runs scored since last Monday for the loss of just 32 wickets. Well done Paul, sincere thanks for your seen and unseen work. The very last word to two unsung heroes from the Groundstaff at the FCG, Fin & Shane, who travelled over to Loughborough on all four days, and did what they had to do in their usual thoroughly competent manner. (Editor’s note: fully echo those sentiments, also thanks to Dips Patel and Barrie Wakeling for lots of behind the scenes help in bringing Second XI cricket back to Park Road).

* The Second XI is next in action at home in two T20 games against Worcestershire in the SET20 competition at the Fischer County Ground on Monday, July 2. The first game starts at 11.30am and admission is free.