Seconds establish good position in Worcester
Worcestershire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 2
REPORT | By Pete Johnson
We arrived at the Flagge Meadow ground of The Royal Grammar School, Worcester for day two of the SEC encounter between Worcestershire and Leicestershire, greeted by a glorious summer morning. There is every chance that it will be ‘cracking the flags’ at Flagge Meadow today. Sadler was putting his charges through their pre match training drills beneath a hot sun.
I prepared for my seven-hour sedentary marathon, by leisurely thumbing through a selection of the morning papers, whilst taking on board a regular intake of morning coffee, complimented by a delightful array of biscuits of the ‘dunking and non dunking variety’ readily available for my eager disposal.
The game was evenly balanced at the conclusion of play on day two. Leicestershire made early inroads into the Worcestershire innings, but stands for the third and eighth wickets put the Pears close to County’s first innings score.
Worcestershire made a very sporting declaration at tea when 23 runs behind, with two wickets in hand. After tea County built a solid platform with a view to setting a target for the Pears to chase, thanks to Harry Dearden, and Aadil Ali.
Worcestershire commenced their reply to Leicestershire’s 318 all out with Tom Fell and Ollie Westbury opening the batting. The cluster of spectators that were present at the start of a seriously hot day took shelter from the sun against the hedgerows around the ground.
Leicestershire were out of the blocks very quickly. Westbury (6) was pinned lbw in the fourth over by Ben Mike steaming in from the St. Oswalds End. In the next over Dominic Manthorpe, coming in from the Pavilion End, had Adam Wiffen caught at point by Michael Jones. Worcestershire on 8-2 from 4.3 overs.
Tom Fell and Pears skipper Alex Hepburn then built a stand of 121 for Worcestershire. In the embryo stages of this partnership we witnessed five overs from James Graham who had replaced Manthorpe at the Pavilion End. The youngster coming up against two seasoned professionals in Fell and Hepburn. I noticed during Graham’s spell that he returns to his mark at a very brisk pace after delivering the ball. If there were a competition amongst fast bowlers, as to who can get back to their mark the quickest, Graham would be in with a chance of winning it.
Worcestershire’s 50 came up after 12.2 overs. Fell and Hepburn brought up their own 50 partnership in 61 balls after 14.4 overs. Hepburn went to his 50 (11x4) from 54 balls with the score on 89-2 from 19.2 overs. The 100 partnership came up after 23.2 overs (113 balls) when the score reached 108-2.
The partnership was broken when Fell (42) was caught at mid on by Michael Jones off the bowling of leg-spinner Matthew McKiernan. Hepburn and Alex Milton safely took the Pears into lunch on 143-3 from 33 overs.
Worcestershire had a bit of a wobble immediately after lunch, losing four wickets for 60 runs. Hepburn (98 from 100 balls) was the first to go, bowled, when he attempted to drive Mike. An excellent knock from Hepburn that included 18 boundaries.
Jack Haynes (4) went lbw to McKiernan, who had now employed five close catchers. Alex Milton (10) was bowled, chopping one on from Manthorpe. I got a little tongue tied here as we had Manthorpe on at one end, and McKiernan at the other end.
Zain Ul- Hussain (16) was caught behind by Harry Swindells off Manthorpe, this was my ‘Champagne Moment’ of the day. Manthorpe, fast medium, left arm over, bowled to the left handed Ul-Hussain, who edged a ball down the leg-side.
Swindells, standing back, took an absolute blinder of a catch, diving to his right, right arm outstretched, with his fully extended body fully horizontal some six inches above the ground. The little maestro gleefully threw the ball up into the afternoon sky, with his right hand to confirm an astounding catch, Worcestershire 189-7 from 49.4 overs.
Ben Twohig and Chris Morris then developed a frustrating partnership for County. They had put on 50 from 87 balls when the score had reached 239-7 from 63.3 overs. Twohig went to his 50 (7x4,1x6) from 60 balls, his maximum being the first one of the match. The length of the boundaries at the RGS is somewhat challenging to the batsmen.
Twohig (52) finally succumbed when he was caught at long on by McKiernan off Aadil, Worcestershire 276-8 from 68.4 overs. The Pears went into tea on 295-8 from 72 Over’s. Morris 37* George Scrimshaw 10*. Charlie Morris registering his highest SEC score. Worcestershire subsequently declared during the tea interval, trailing Leicestershire by 23 runs.
Seven of the eight Worcestershire wickets to fall went to County’s ‘M People’ Manthorpe 3-36 from 11, Mike 2-38 from 11, McKiernan 2-88 from 26. Eat your heart out Heather Small!
Harry Dearden and Sam Evans opened up for Leicestershire, but Evans (0) suffered every batsman’s nightmare when adjudged lbw to Adam Finch. We all felt for Sam, a pair against the Pears. It may be of some comfort to Sam that another certain opening batsman has his first two test match scores included in his surname (Graham Gooch). You have got to be old (like me) to remember Gooch’s test debut.
Dearden and Aadil Ali then set about the Worcestershire attack. Dearden was exceptionally strong on the leg side, taking regular boundaries in the mid-wicket/square-leg area, whilst Aadil was powerfully hitting boundaries in the mid-on, and mid-off areas.
Dearden and Aadil brought up their 50 partnership from 57 balls when the score reached 54-1 from 11.3 overs. I mentioned earlier in my epistle that the length of the boundaries at the RGS were rather challenging, well this brings me to my second Champagne Moment. I am allowed two ‘Champagne Moments’ at my time of life.
Left arm spinner Twohig was operating from the St. Oswald End. From the first ball of his spell Aadil slated him, literally. Aadil launched a maximum that went right out of the ground, and crashed into the slated roof of a house on St. Oswald Road. The ball rebounded off the roof and nestled in the garden behind a brick wall. I can just see the house owner checking his insurance policies for Acts of God. Meanwhile, can we have our ball back please?
Dearden was scoring liberally, going at a run a ball. Dearden (49) fell one short of a deserved half century when he clipped Scrimshaw to Twohig at short mid wicket. County on 102-2 from 17 overs. Michael Jones joined Aadil, who went to his 50 (7x4,1x6) from 53 balls when the score was on 105-2 from 18.2 overs.
Michael ‘the Hoover’ Jones (keeps it on the carpet) and Aadil ensured that County did not lose any further wickets before the close, taking the Foxes into stumps on 133-2 from 32. Aadil 62* Jones 15*. Leicestershire leading by 156 runs going into the final day. Worcestershire 7 points, Leicestershire 7 points.
Before closing I want to mention a certain person back at the FCG, Dan (24/7) Nice for his outstanding efforts today (and always) on behalf of LCCC . The man that is Dan was busily engaged with a WWC game at the Fischer County Ground, found time to keep us up to date with proceedings there, and also keeps everybody updated from Arundel, and of the Seconds at Worcester. I have seen at first hand how hard he works on a WWC day, makes me tired just watching him. Dan well done mate, and please do not invoke your editorial licence by leaving this bit out. (Editor’s note – thanks Pete!)