Aadil and Swindells in the runs
Worcestershire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 1:
REPORT | By Pete Johnson
We arrived at Flagge Meadow, home of The Royal Grammar School, Worcester, for day one of a three-day SEC match against Worcestershire.
The Royal Grammar School is a mainstream independently funded senior school for boys and girls aged 11 to 18. They operate an admission policy (it cannot be all that selective today, as they have let me in). The school was founded before 1291, and is one of the oldest British independent day schools.
Tracing its origins back to the seventh century it is the sixth oldest school in the world. Notable old boys from the cricketing world are Tim Curtis, Dean Hedley, Imran Khan, and Neil Pinner, all of whose names feature on either the batting or bowling Honours Board in the pavilion.
The Flagge Meadow boasts a very large playing area, the outfield displaying an appearance of being very finely manicured, no weeds, and ‘Wembley stripes’ being the order of the day. The scorers have a bird’s eye view of events, from just left of ‘behind the arm’ and are housed above the dressing rooms.
From our vantage point you could well be in Oxford, as the dreaming spires of four churches can be seen, the Cathedral visible in close proximity as well.
First up sincere congratulations to Harry Swindells on being selected for the England Under-19s squad. I am sure that everyone is pleased that Harry’s hard work, effort, dedication, and positive attitude have been duly rewarded.
Leicestershire batted all day losing their final wicket with just 2.1 overs of the days play remaining, so there were insufficient overs left for Worcestershire to commence their reply. Aadil Ali and Ben Mike fell agonisingly one run short of a century and half-century respectively.
Whilst Swindells celebrated his England Under-19s call up by posting 60, his highest score, to date, for the Second XI. Michael Jones weighed in with a valuable 45 runs, at a crucial time, rebuilding the innings with Aadil after County had been reduced to 2-2.
A light morning drizzle prevented play from getting under way on time, play commencing at 11.30am. With a ‘Golden Hour’ in operation for SEC matches, no overs are lost on day one or day two until 60 minutes playing time has been lost to the elements.
Aadil was skippering County but his opposite number Alex Hepburn won the toss, and elected to field. There was a slight tinge of green in the pitch. There were a dozen or so spectators present at the scheduled start time, all parking their cars in the generous amount of space between the boundary rope, and the outer confines of the ground. Oh hello, the players are coming on to the field!
The players took to the field on a cloudy and dull early July morning. Harry Dearden and Sam Evans opened up for County, but both were back in the pavilion after 3.2 overs. Dearden (0) went third ball when he edged Pat Brown to Ben Twohig at second slip. Sam Evans (0) soon followed bowled by Charlie Morris. It being American Independence Day there was to be no celebration for ‘Uncle’ Sam today in these parts.
Aadil and triallist Jones then did a superb job in rebuilding the innings. Early in their partnership Jones played the shot of the day to date when he caressed seamer George Scrimshaw through the covers for a textbook boundary. County’s 50 came up after 18.2 overs. It was hard going, against a very probing attack in conditions favourable to the bowlers.
Aadil and Jones brought up their 50 partnership in 99 balls after 19.2 overs. Aadil was developing his innings, and took consecutive fours down the ground off left arm spinner Twohig, who was bowling from the Pavilion End. Aadil brought up his 50 (7x4) from 76 balls after 24.5 overs when he drove Twohig through extra cover to the ropes.
Paceman Adam Finch, who has also been called up by England Under-19s was flying in from the St. Oswold End. County went into lunch on 83-2 from 29 overs. Aadil took eight in the first over after Lunch from seamer Hepburn. Jones was playing a fine innings, and drove Brown through the covers for 4. Jones does specialise in keeping the ball on the carpet.
Aadil and Jones brought up their 100 partnership when the score reached 102-2 from 33.5.Jones had made an imperious 45 from 110 balls when he was adjudged lbw to Morris. County on 123-3 from 39.2 overs.
Mosun Hussain joined Aadil, and this is where the problems started for yours truly, and his scoring ‘oppo Phil. Both Aadil and Mosun were of similar stature, both right handers, and both wearing a number 14 shirt with Aadil on the back. We needed eyes like hawks to identify them. With it being Wimbledon fortnight that Hawkeye machine that they use at SW19 would not have gone amiss at The Royal Worcester Grammar school to help us identify the pair of them, it was like watching the Parkinson twins with a pair of beer goggles on.
All this going on, and having to keep up with Leicestershire’s Katie Boulter’s first round match at Wimbledon, via Twitter. A man can only do so much. The Worcestershire Scorer is affectionately referred to as Harry Potter by the Worcestershire players, as he looks somewhat like JK Rowling’s character. Pity he could not work a bit of his magic here!
Mosun produced two excellent cuts for four off consecutive balls from Morris. Mosun (20) went caught in the gully by Jack Haynes off Twohig, from a ball that sat up on him, County on 160-4 from 48.3 overs.
Aadil had moved into the 80s and was now just accumulating in singles. Irfan Amjad joined Aadil but met his demise to a catch out of the top drawer by substitute fielder Mahaaz Ahmed. Amjad (9) skied one over mid-off, Ahmed ran after the trajectory of the ball, and took the catch with the ball coming from behind him, sticking his arms out in front of him. Twohig the bowler benefitting from the excellent fielding.
Aadil went from 84 to 99 all in singles from 31 balls. When on 99, we all felt for him, when he steered a catch into the hands of Jack Haynes at gully off Brown. A crucial innings at the top of the order, helping rebuild the innings in Leicestershire’s favour, Aadil falling one short of a richly deserved century.
His innings spanned 157 balls and contained twelve fours. No maximums, which is very unusual for Aadil when making a big score. County on 186-6 from 58.2 overs. Then followed a partnership between Swindells and Mike of that belied their ages of 18 years. The pair played with caution, respecting the bowling, but punishing anything that merited the treatment. They took County into tea on 203-6 from 62 overs.
The duo brought up their 50 partnership from 156 balls with the score on 236-6 from 75.3 overs. Swindells and Mike were primarily taking runs through mid wicket, and cover, although ‘The Swindler’ was gleefully playing his sweep shot when a suitable occasion arose. Mike was despatching any short pitched bowling in the direction of deep mid-wicket.
The pair had added 98, and a century partnership was looming when Mike (49) pulled seamer Finch in the direction of deep mid-wicket, and Adam Wiffen pouched the catch on the boundaries edge. Finch initially starting off at the St. Oswold End, and subsequently fluttering down to the Pavilion End. A cruel blow for Mike who merited a half-century. Mike’s 49 coming from 93 balls with 7x4, County 284-7 from 88.2 overs.
Matt McKiernan joined Swindells, but was lbw to seamer Zain Ul-Hassan without scoring. County 286-8 from 90 overs. Swindells went to his 50 (3x4) from 125 balls. The balls he soaked up demonstrating the application he had put into his innings.
Mustafa Rafique safely saw County to 300 - maximum batting points - with Swindells. Rafique had supported Swindells well in seeing County to the 300. Swindells innings finely came to an end when he edged Hepburn into the gloves of keeper Alex Milton. Swindells made 60 from 144 balls (3x4). An innings of application, adapted to the circumstances, County 313-9 from 99.4 overs.
Rafique confidently drove Hepburn down the ground for four, but next ball was lbw to the same bowler. England Under-19 pace bowling prospect Finch endeavouring to clip County’s wings somewhat with 1-38 from 19 overs.
County all out for 318 from 101.5 overs. That signalled the end of the day’s play, which concluded at 7.16pm. Worcestershire 4 points, Leicestershire 4 points.