Sayer, Ball and Wells hit half-centuries
Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 1:
REPORT | By Pete Johnson
Leicestershire took on Nottinghamshire in a three-day friendly at Notts Sports Ground. This being the third of three matches in which the Foxes have faced Nottinghamshire this season at the NSG.
The other two being our first SEC and SET matches of the season back in April. The NSG is just across the road from the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest FC. It was noticeable that since our visit earlier in the season the girders on the Bridgford End Stand have had a fresh coat of red paint.
A total of 20 overs were lost at the end of day one due to bad light. County had a good day with the bat, posting 335-7 from 84 overs sent down. Rob Sayer (89) falling just short of a century, and trialist Adam Ball weighing in with a very impressive 82. Ball and Sayer racked up a partnership of 142 for the third wicket. Tom Wells, at the top of the order, made 59 at just over a run a ball.
Wells was skippering County but his opposite number Anuj Dal won the toss and elected to field. There were only a handful of spectators present when play commenced, Nottinghamshire First XI being at home at Trent Bridge just a stone’s throw away from the NSG.
There were two players with double-barrelled names in the Nottinghamshire side, (Dave and Ansell Collins would be most impressed. Think hit records from 1971, come on, please keep up). Also ten of the twelve Nottinghamshire players had numbers on their backs, the lowest of which was 61.
A good pastime if you are relaxing on the boundary, as the players numbers are so high, is to think of a world event relating to the year on the back of each of the Nottinghamshire players shirts, or even to name the FA Cup winners in that year. I managed to find several windows of opportunity during the day to engage my ever demanding brain in such a treasure trove of trivia.
Sam Evans and Wells opened the innings for Leicestershire in dull and cloudy weather. Evans was playing the sedentary role, and taking the majority of the strike whilst Wells was readapting well to his reintroduction to red ball cricket after being in the Leicestershire T20 team for some weeks.
With County’s interest having ended in the T20 Blast, the mention of T20 (see it on the bottom of the TV screen when a check out is on at darts) conjures up visions of the Ally Pally just before Christmas (stand up if you love the darts), must-watch TV!! The pair had added 35 for the first wicket when Evans (15) attempted to pull a short ball from Riecko Parker-Cole, got a touch, and was caught down the leg side by keeper Tom Keast.
Ball joined Wells and witnessed his skipper take a brace of boundaries in consecutive overs off seamers Matt Milnes and Parker-Coles. Ball was looking the part of a solid number three, showing the bat maker’s name to the bowler when playing countless exemplary forward defensive shots, Wells was also a mirror image of this as the partnership progressed. You could not have got a cigarette paper between their bat and front pad. (If that doesn’t get past the Editor, substitute shaft of daylight for fag paper)
Wells took a blow on the helmet from Milnes which led to a stoppage whilst the physio checked out Wells, who subsequently called for a replacement helmet. Wells went to his 50 (9x4) from 53 balls with the score on 86-1 from 21.5 overs. At the same time the 50 partnership came up between Wells and Ball from 74 deliveries.
Ball had also clipped two fours gracefully off his legs and was venomous to anything short, dismissively despatching it to the ropes in the square-leg area. Wells (59 from 61 balls, 11x4) went lbw to leg-spinner Ish Sodhi when the score was on 102-2 from 25.3 overs.
Sayer joined Ball for what was to be a lengthy partnership. Quite aptly off spinner Jordan Cook came on just before lunch but could not tempt Ball or Sayer with anything he had on his menu. County went into lunch on 132-2 from 33 overs, Ball 34* Sayer 16*.
Going back to my earlier reference to player numbers, it is interesting to see what first comes to your mind with the number you see on a player’s back. Mine so far in the Leicestershire side: Evans 21 (key of the door), Wells 48 (three things here come to mind: the year the NHS was founded, 48 Crash by Suzi Quatro, and the year a certain scorer, who lives not a million miles from the FCG, was born).
Sayer 12 (Disciples). Get the drift? Soon after lunch Sayer took a blow on the helmet from Milnes in a similar manner to Wells earlier in the day. Physio in on field action again. Ball and Sayer brought up their 50 partnership from 88 balls with the score on 154-2 from 39.5 overs.
Ball went to his 50 when he deposited leg spinner Connor Marshall for a straight maximum. Ball’s 50 (6x4, 1x6) from 114 balls. Ball and Sayer brought up their 100 partnership from 161 balls when the score reached 202-2 from 51.5 overs.
Sayer was really on song, and was ensuring that the show went on, going to his half-century (5x4,1x6) from 91 balls with a classic straight drive off Lyndon James. James then being removed from the attack, and having the opportunity to sit down.
Ball was bouncing along very nicely and it looked a formality that he would register a century on his Leicestershire 2s debut. Unfortunately he was out, in the only way that it looked possible for Nottinghamshire to dismiss him, run out. Ball played a ball from Cook up to mid-on, called for a single but Dal swooped on the ball and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end with Ball failing to make his ground.
Ball made 82 from 166 balls (10x4,1x6). A very resolute and determined innings from Ball who toughed it out all the way. A partnership of 142 with Sayer.
Zak Chappell (1) went bowled by Cook, so Ben Mike joined Sayer. Mike batted very responsibly in the run up to tea, being untroubled by the all spin attack of Sohdi and Cook. County went into tea on 282-4 from 72 overs, Sayer 88* Mike 13*.
After tea, the light closed in, and Nottinghamshire had to continue with an all-spin attack. Liam Patterson-White was introduced to the attack, the ninth bowler to be used by Notts.
From the fifth ball of the first over after tea, Sayer (89) clipped Cook straight to Dal at mid-wicket. Sayer’s body language showing a frustrated demeanour as a century was there for the taking. A fine innings by Sayer (7x4, 3x6) from 139 balls.
Harry Swindells joined Mike. At this point we learnt that they had come off the field at nearby Trent Bridge for bad light, although all floodlight pylons visible at the ground were testing the National Grid.
The umpires were now having a regular conference between overs whist looking skywards. Mike (15) was adjudged lbw to Patterson-White. Dieter Klein joined Swindells. Back to the shirt numbers, Klein 77, got to be Sunset Strip, (for any younger members of my worldwide audience Sunset Strip was a popular TV programme in the late 1950s, early 1960s, it was not when you took your clothes off at sunset).
The pair had added 20 when Swindells (12) was caught behind by his opposite number Keast off Cook. That’s opposite number as in wicket-keeper, not opposite number as in numbers.
Nottinghamshire were precluded from taking the new ball due to the gathering gloom. Klein had made a brisk 22 from 29 balls and Matthew McKiernan 9 from 4 balls when at 5.17pm, the umpires took the players from the field as a result of bad light.
The umpires made a couple of visits back out to the middle to check the reading on their light meters. However, with no sign of any brighter weather on the horizon, play was abandoned for the day at 6.01pm. Leicestershire 335-7, Klein 22* McKiernan 9*. No points on offer as this match is a SEF. Things then got even gloomier as it appeared that England were about to lose the second test match against West Indies.