Harry Dearden batting v Loughborough
Match Reports

Dearden and Sayer put Seconds in strong position

MCC Young Cricketers v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 1:


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at the London Road home of High Wycombe CC for a three-day Second XI Championship match against MCC Young Cricketers. High Wycombe CC, founded in 1823, have won the Home Counties Premier League seven times. The main industry of Wycombe is furniture. The town is famous for making Windsor chairs, nearby Wycombe Wanderers FC are nicknamed ‘the Chairboys’.

There was no sign of any Windsor chairs in the quaint little Scorebox, yours truly being perched on a seat that any self-respecting member of the House of Windsor, would give a somewhat wide berth to. My facilities for the next three days being more akin to structures inhabited by Alan Titchmarsh, than any aspiring Bill Frindall - or Benedict - to bring things bang up to date.

With red kites having a reputation for regularly gliding in the sky above the ground, this Buckinghamshire retreat would be Utopia for any cricket loving ornithologist. In my younger days I was very keen on birds too.

Leicestershire held the upper hand on day one dismissing MCC YCs for 227 thanks mainly to The Foxes ‘SAS’ of Sayer and Swindells. Sayer taking 4-29 and gallant gloveman Swindells, fresh from his stint with the England Under 19 squad, taking five catches. Leicestershire closed on 201-2 thanks to a brilliant  125 not out from Harry Dearden.

Ben Raine skippered County for this match, won the toss, and elected to field. The ground appeared to have taken overnight rain well. The players took to the field in sunny conditions, with high cloud drifting across the sky. A travelling ‘army’ of twi Leicestershire members were present at the start, one male, one female, you know who they are!

These ground hopping stalwarts comprising 40% of the attendance at the start of play. I can really empathise with Rosemary and Chris after just having rattled one into the back of the net with my football equivalent, a trip to Forest Green Rovers just some ten days ago, thus maintaining my record of having been to all 92 League grounds. (FGR 2 Barnet 2, for anyone who is slightly interested).

I followed this up with a trip to The Emirates last Friday for Arsenal v City, and who was sitting in the seats next to me? None other than Guy & George, father, and brother, of Harry Swindells! Of all the seats in all of The Emirates Stadium… unbelievable (Jeff).

Cricket match about to start, sorry to digress. Ben Curran and Joe Barrett, both left handers, opened up for the YCs against an opening attack of Ajmal Shahzad and Dominic Manthorpe. Barrett, when on 0, narrowly escaped being caught at mid-wicket off Manthorpe.

They brought up their 50 partnership after 18.3 overs rather fortunately when Barrett edged Raine just over second slip for four. Raine had replaced Manthorpe at ‘The Nets End’, Zak Chappell having replaced Shahzad at the Pavilion End.

Raine was probing and testing the batsmen while Chappell was working up a healthy pace. The YCs had progressed to 60-0 from 17 overs but soon found themselves 71-4 from 20.5 overs.

Curran (20) edged a short ball from Raine to ‘keeper Swindells. Barrett (31) had a short ball get big on him from Chappell, and holed out to Shahzad at mid-on. Marc Lezar (0) edged behind to Swindells off Neil Dexter, who had been beating the bat on numerous occasions. Matt Cross (0) was pinned lbw by Chappell.

Later, from the third ball of the last over before lunch, Saf Imtiaz was caught by Swindells off the solitary over Sayer bowled in the morning session. YCs went into Lunch on 111-5 from 32 (there was time for Sayer to complete his over). Finn Allen 23* Brandon Allen 0*.

After finishing my lunch I opted for a bit of solitary confinement, nipping back to Titchmarsh Towers to catch up on a bit of social media, and also to ring Mrs J. My 10 minutes of solitude was swallowed up by a spectator telling me about his visit to the recent MCC v RAF game (do they just deal in initials round here?), and asking my interpretation of a D-L-S scenario that occurred in that game.

No time was had for any personal pleasures being subsequently available. The players exited the pavilion at 1.55pm; social media blackout, and no chance to ring the wife!

Immediately after lunch Raine delivered a superb spell of bowling his match figures reading (9-5-9-1). The nine runs being an edge earlier in the day over second slip for four, and included two missed slip catches that resulted in singles. The ‘Black Cat’ showing that he is rapidly getting back to full fitness.

Allen (16) went lbw to Chappell but Allen was somewhat of a stumbling block for County. I am told he is the current New Zealand Under-19 Captain. The Kiwi was giving a very polished performance. Allen went to his 50 (9x4) from 59 balls with the score on 161-6 from 44.3 overs.

Allen then brought up a 50 partnership with Luke Jones from 51 balls with the score on 188-6 from 48.4. The score had reached 197 when Jones (18) was bowled by Sayer. Ben Brookes (0) went first ball, caught Swindells bowled Sayer. ‘The Mighty Finn’ Allen continued to unleash a few shots that reached the boundary.

Andrew Hazeldine (13) was yet another victim to the Swindells/Sayer combination. Finn (81) was last man out when he was bowled by Shahzad, MCC YCs all out for 227 from 54.2 overs, Sayer taking 4-29 from 7, Zak Chappell 3-46 from 10. Miserly figures from Ben Raine of 1-14 from 10. Neil Dexter 1-45 from 11. Ajmal Shahzad 1-49 from 10.2. Dom Manthorpe 0-26 from 6.

County had 15 overs to bat before tea, and negotiated them without losing a wicket. Dearden and Sam Evans opened the innings against the all left arm opening seam attack of Oli Smithson (going to Grace Road in the late 1950s I can recall a GA Smithson who briefly appeared at No 5 or No 6 for LCCC - ring any bells with anyone?), and Brookes.

Dearden was taking on the bowling in a fearsome manner, scoring heavily through mid-wicket and ancillary on-side areas. He demonstrated a ‘Flamingo’ shot, pirouetting on one leg as he flicked the ball through mid-wicket to the ropes. Pirouetting on one leg Harry! The contestants for Strictly have not been finalised yet. I know a bloke who offers a good deal in sequins and spray on tan... (emoji laughing its head off)

The 50 partnership between Dearden and Evans coming up after 14.2 overs. County went into tea on 52-0 from 15. After tea Dearden cruised to his 50 (11x4) from 55 balls, the score on 65-0 from 17.5. Evans (16) went caught at mid-off by Ashley Sivarajah off yet another left arm seamer Hazeldine. Sam getting under a lifting ball, and dwelling in the crease observing the ball being comfortably pouched in the fielder’s hands.

Four of the YCs first five bowlers being left arm, not much gets past me. The old eyes stepping up to the plate. Dexter joined Dearden, and the pair put County in a position where a stranglehold on the game beckoned.

Dearden was going through his full repertoire, shots through midwicket, on drives, cover drives, reverse sweeps, the list is endless. Harry was really on his game! Dexter meanwhile was taking a liking for the steering the ball behind square on the off-side and utilising this shot regularly. More late cutting than a Barber on nightshift.

Dearden and Dexter brought up their 50 partnership from 66 balls after 28.6 with the score on 117-1. Dearden went to a superlative 100 (20x4) from 93 balls with the score on 152-1 from 32.2. Dexter (45) was bowled by Sivarajah by the penultimate ball of the penultimate over of the day. A very solid and workman like innings from Dexter that encompassed 85 balls. A partnership of 127 with Dearden for the second wicket.

Skipper Raine came in with seven balls remaining, the nightwatchman being laid off for the evening. County closing on 201-2, trailing MCC YCs by 26 runs. Dearden 125* Raine 4*. MCC YCs 2 points, Leicestershire 6 points.