Seconds lose close game to Pears
Worcestershire v Leicestershire, Second XI Championship, Day 3:
REPORT | By Pete Johnson
Here we are then Thursday, third and final day of the SEC encounter between Worcestershire and Leicestershire.
I was anticipating yet another frantic multi tasking day as not only do I have Wimbledon, and a County First XI match to keep up with, on t’internet, but we had a test match starting as well. All that in addition to keeping up to date with all the football transfer gossip that is swirling about at this time of year as the new season rapidly approaches.
The sporting calendar at certain times of the year has scant regard for the lynchpin of the county circuit, the Second XI scorer. I reckon I could write book, Confessions of a Second XI scorer, with a title like that I could mention to my representatives that a film may be more appropriate. However, knowing my luck it would probably turn into a ‘Carry on Film’, Carry on scoring, with me taking the Sid James role.
Norman Gifford, ex-Worcestershire, and England who is currently President of Worcestershire was at the ground before the start, and had an unfortunate mishap with his car. He had parked up near the Pavilion while the Worcestershire players were doing their pre-match warm-ups, a cricket ball ricocheted of the sightscreen, and badly cracked his car windscreen. Not a good start to the day for Norman, who is now a very spritely septuagenarian.
Leicestershire progressed their score to 302-8 and declared at lunchtime, setting Worcestershire a target of 326 to win from a minimum of 67 overs. The Pears chased the total down for the loss of three wickets with 2.4 overs remaining in the day.
Another glorious summer’s day greeted the players as they took to the field. Leicestershire resumed on their overnight 133-2, leading Worcestershire by 156 runs, Aadil Ali 62* Michael Jones 15*.
The attendance at the start of play was somewhat sparse compared to the last two days. On gentleman had brought along a garden chair, and was sitting adjacent to the pavilion giving himself a rub down, all over with sunscreen. The other two spectators were walking around the boundaries edge (anti-clockwise direction so that you have got the full picture).
Only two runs had been added to the overnight score when Jones (15) was bowled by Charlie Morris. Mosun Hussain joined Aadil, and the pair prospered adding a partnership of 53. Both batsmen were finding the boundary especially through the vacant third man area regularly. Hussain also weighed in with a couple of cover drives to the ropes.
Their 50 alliance came up from 67 balls when the score reached 185-3 from 44.3 overs. Aadil (80) departed to a stunning catch by Zain Ul-Hassan in the short mid-wicket/mid-on area. Aadil is a victim to the catch of the day on quite a few occasions. The mention of catch of the day always reminds me of the Specials Board in a pub where the fish course is made known. Another fine knock by Aadil to go with his 99 in the first innings.
Hussain (39) went bowled by Ul-Hassan when looking to force the pace. Irfan Amjad and Harry Swindells then set about the bowling rattling up a 50 partnership from 35 balls. Swindells launched seamer Alex Hepburn for a big six down the ground to the right of the pavilion. A very big hit from one of such small stature, just one of the array of shots that the Swindler has in his locker.
(Whilst all this is going on the Premier League announce what Premiership games are being screened in August and September, three involving LCFC. Kick-off times and dates changing, as if I have not got enough to think about).
Amjad kept the board ticking over at a run a ball. Upon reaching 27 Amjad went lbw to spinner Twohig. County on 252-6 from 55.3 overs. Swindells was joined by Ben Mike, the Dynamic Duo adding 40 runs in 23 balls.
Mike was the dominant partner finding the rope on four occasions, and launching a huge maximum. Mike proceeded to lose two balls during his onslaught. In total five balls were lost during the match. I reckon the balls with my lottery numbers on them must be in the same place as well. Lost balls are very familiar to me when I reflect on my exceptional golf prowess.
The impish Swindells was cheekily scampering singles whilst Mike was intent on going ‘downtown’ Good old Petula (Clark).
The partnership came to an end when Swindells (44) took on Adam Wiffen’s arm for a second run but was out of his ground. Not exactly a photo finish for Harry had he been on a horse in the 2.30pm at the nearby Worcester racecourse.
Matthew McKeirnan joined Mike, and was able to crane his neck, and watch another massive hit from Mike clear the boundary. If he keeps going Downtown, I am going to have to start calling him Petula. McKiernan (1) was out caught by Adam Finch off Ollie Westbury from the last ball before lunch. Mike 35*.
County declared their innings on 302-8 during the luncheon interval, Worcestershire being set a target of 326 to win from a minimum of 67 overs at an asking rate of 4.86 per over. The Pears timed their run chase to perfection, getting over the line with 16 balls to spare. County had an early breakthrough when Mustafa Rafique bowled Westbury (10). That was just about as good as it got for The Foxes.
Tom Fell and Wiffen shared a partnership of 148. Their 50 alliance came up from 82 balls with the score on 93-1 from 21.6. Fell went to his 50 (12x4) from 55 balls. At tea Worcestershire were 110-1 from 28 overs, Fell 55* Wiffen 29*.
They brought up their 100 partnership from 175 balls when the score reached 143-1 from 37.3. Wiffen posted his 50 (7x4) from 118 balls with the score on 156-1 from 40 overs. Fell went to his 100 (17x4) from 112 balls with the score on 184-1 from 44.2 overs.
Just afterwards Fell (101) went caught behind by Swindells off Aadil. Just before the last hour began Wiffen (77) went caught at slip by Harry Dearden off Aadil. Upon commencement of the aforementioned last hour Worcestershire were on 227-3 requiring a further 99 runs from a minimum of 16 overs.
Hepburn and Alex Milton always looked in the box seat to finish the job. At one point in the last hour, we had five fielders - plus umpire Nigel Cowley - searching for a ball that had disappeared under the covers or amongst the nearby ground sheets. It took a good five minutes for the six of them to find it.
Hepburn and Milton brought up their 50 partnership from 48 balls, with the score on 269-3 from 57.3 overs. Just afterwards Hepburn went to his 50 (3x4,1x6) from 47 balls with the score on 275-3 from 58.1 overs.
Worcestershire reached their target when Hepburn clipped Rafique to the ropes, Worcestershire winning by 7 wickets, the game finishing at 6.21pm. Worcestershire 23 points, Leicestershire 7 points.
Mr Cowley, one of the match umpires, is retiring from the first-class list at the end of the season. I very much doubt that he will officiate at a Leicestershire Second XI match again this season, so we wish him all the very best in his retirement.
Finally, thanks to Worcestershire scorer Phil Mellish for his company, and many amusing conversations over the past four days. You have got plenty of ammunition for that microphone at New Road, and I hope the Wombles deliver for you next season Phil! (Editor’s note – our good luck message to AFC Wimbledon extends to all games except two in League One next season)