Seconds finish with dramatic final day

RESULT | Day 3, Second XI Friendly (3 days): Sussex Second XI 77-4 dec and 341-5 beat Leicestershire Second XI 417-6 dec & 0-0 dec by 5 wickets


REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Here we are then, the last day of term for the Second XI, day three of the SEF3 v Sussex is upon us. A dozen of Tom Smith’s class of 2018 swept into the car park of the Blackstone Academy aboard our Coach, with Dave our durable driver at the helm, ensuring that we arrived at our destination on the dot, in line with instructions received from Sgt Major Smith, and his trusted wingman, Lieutenant Dips Patel.

The sun had decided to make an appearance for our last day of the season, many of the players having removed their shorts and sunhats from mothballs. The weather was in keeping with high Summer rather than early Autumn.

Sussex CCC had to make two changes to their side overnight. Will Beer and Laurie Evans had been called up to the Sussex squad for the Vitality Blast T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston on Saturday. They were replaced by Joe Ludlow and Nick Oxley, the latter who carried out twelfth man duties in the recent fifth test match between England and India at The Kia Oval.

The captains and coaches had been in discussion before the days play started and came up with a plan to set a target on the final day. After a declaration by Sussex CCC, and forfeit of their second innings by Leicestershire, Sussex CCC were challenged to make 341 to win from a minimum of 90 overs.

It proved to be a brilliant assessment by those involved in setting the target, as Sussex CCC got home by five wickets with just two overs remaining thanks to a fine 114 not out from George Garton, ably supported by Oxley, who made 66 not out. The pair forged an unbroken partnership of 160 for the sixth wicket.

The players took to the field on a warm, balmy September morning, the bright sunshine bringing back fond memories of the summer of 2018. There were five spectators present at the start of play, with Dave, our faithful and dutiful coach driver making up 20% of the attendance. I trust you will have noticed that yours truly was fast out of the blocks this morning with his precise mathematical calculations.

Sussex resumed from their overnight 53-2. The two not out batsman Beer and Evans being replaced at the crease by Jonty Jenner and George Garton. No Beer on offer today! Aadil Ali and Hassan Azad bowled 4.3 overs between them, and allowed Sussex, with the co-operation of the fielders, to score a further 24 runs.

The hosts declared at 77-2 - or 77-4 - depending which way you look at it. Jenner 15* and Garton 8*, Leicestershire CCC leading by 340 runs. Leicestershire CCC subsequently forfeited their second innings, with Sussex CCC therefore requiring 341 to win from a minimum of 90 overs, an asking rate of 3.78 per over.

Sussex CCC commenced their innings at 10.47am with Andrew Umeed and Harrison Ward opening against an attack of Tom Taylor and Richard Jones. County managed to capture two wickets in the 24 overs bowled before unch. Umeed (16, 23b) went lbw to Jones, and Ward (23, 39b) had his off stump uprooted by Jack White. A tidy spell by right arm seamer White before lunch, returning figures of 6-2-9-1 in his first spell. White also had two confident lbw appeals turned down, and also an edge just falling short of first slip.

Our hosts went into lunch on 79-2 from 24 overs. Joe Ludlow 24* and Jenner 15*. In the sixth over after lunch, Ludlow and Jenner posted a 50 partnership from 100 balls. Ludlow went to town after lunch as well advancing his score to 48 before becoming a second victim for White, when he edged a ball down the leg-side, ‘keeper Lewis Hill comfortably taking the catch.

Sussex CCC were now 111-3 from 33.2 overs. If I may digress a little, talking of Ludlow there are only four racecourses in England, Ludlow being one of them, that do not have the letters R, A, C, or E in their name. Answers on a postcard please to Dan Nice, who will forward all replies to one of my agents.

Rob Sayer bowled a long spell in the afternoon session, with seven runs coming from one of his deliveries. Jenner took three runs, and a further four runs came from overthrows. A commendable impression of a teapot by Sayer following this unfortunate occurrence. Sayer got due reward when he trapped Jenner (45, 99b) in front,  Sussex CCC 149-4 from 47. Garton (31*) and Joe Cooke (15*) took their side to tea on 180-4 from 58 overs.

At tea, Sussex CCC required a further 161 to win from a minimum of 32 overs, an asking rate of 5.03 per over. In the third over after tea, Sayer got his second victim by pinning Cooke (16, 40b) in front. Sussex CCC 183-5 from 60.3 overs. That was as good as it got for County as a splendid partnership from Garton and Oxley saw Sussex home.

Garton went to his 50 (106b, 4x4) when the score reached 230-5 from 70.5 overs. The pair brought up their 50 partnership from 78 balls. The last hour, and a minimum of 16 overs to be bowled, arrived at 4.34pm with Sussex requiring 103 to win.

The new ball was taken after 80 overs by White and Jones with Sussex needing 61 off 10. It did not bring success as Garton and Oxley forged their 100 partnership from 125 balls, the score at 283-5 from 81.1 overs.

Oxley went to his 50 (78b, 5x4) with the score at 325-5 from 86.5 overs. With the game all but won Garton and Oxley posted a 150 partnership from 161 balls. Garton struck the winning runs by stroking Jones through the covers for a boundary. Sussex getting home by five wickets with 12 balls remaining. Garton 114* (164b) and Oxley 66* (88b). The time lost on day two had forced the teams to improvise.

The wicket-takers for Leicestershire were White 2-65 from 20, Sayer 2-83 from 25, and Jones 1-43 from 8. I would like to mention Harry Swindells who gave a first class display in the field, both when in the ring, and also as an efficient boundary rider. Skipper Sam Evans also caught the eye saving a number of runs with athletic fielding.

I had an interesting three days scoring with Nigel, the Sussex 2s Scorer for the game. I have been in touch with XTC, and they have told me they are Making Plans for Nigel…

Before leaving deepest Sussex for our journey home, sincere thanks to Monique, who was our designated physio for the three days. Cheerful, helpful, and reliable, not to mention the odd word or two, a pleasure to meet you. Could not sign off from Sussex without mention of THE man: Dave, our driver. Door to door service, hotel to ground and back. Dave parked our coach up at the 1st County Ground at Hove after dropping us at our hotel, walked back, and then in a morning walked to the 1st County Ground, collected the coach, and was in position outside our hotel at the designated time waiting for us. A job well done, thank you Dave.

A word too for Dan Nice who turned out going up for 11.00pm on a Thursday night to unlock a gate at the FCG so that our coach could gain access, and also allowing our players' cars to egress. Thought you might have worn a white smock to look the part Dan... #laughingemoji

Well that’s it then, another season for the Second XI put to bed. It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that we embarked on our 2018 campaign with a visit to Durham some 20 weeks ago on April 24. As you probably know, if you have an hour or two to read my ramblings on the LCCC website, I have been with the 2s all season. I see all the unseen work that our coaching staff do, both front of house and behind the scenes.

LCCC are extremely fortunate to have Tom Smith in charge of their Second XI. In his first season with the club, Tom has made a tremendous impact, and has done a very professional job, always prepared to go the extra mile. The wealth of experience, knowledge, and advice that he passes on to our players cannot be underestimated. Tom is a great asset to the club. Dips Patel’s contribution should not be overlooked either, having provided trusted, reliable and solid support to Tom throughout the 2018 Second XI campaign. I am sure each and every one of our players would agree with my comments regarding Tom & Dips.

Before signing off for the close season I would like to say a personal thank you to a number of cricket clubs and individuals who have ensured that the 2018 campaign for Leicestershire Second XI ran smoothly. Thank you to Kibworth CC, Loughborough Town CC, Lutterworth CC, and Rugby School for hosting Second XI games for us; the time and effort you put in during, before, and after the games at your ground is very much appreciated.

Thanks to John Stew, and his professional and efficient catering team for providing top-class food during our games at the FCG. Thanks to Paul Rogers and Peter Connolly for covering for me on scoring duties when I was on holiday earlier in the season. Whilst on the scoring theme, thanks also to Dave Goodacre for operating the manual scoreboard for all Second XI games played at the FCG this season.

On to the office staff, the nuts and bolts of Team LCCC. Thanks to Jen for sorting out all our hotel bookings for away trips and also my transport arrangements when on our travels. Thanks to Lizzie for providing me with all of the stationery requirements needed for Scoring. Thanks to Louise and Steve for processing all team expenses. Thanks to Jasmine for the supply of LCCC clothing. Thanks to Harry for his assistance during our games at the FCG.

Thanks to the players and coaches who have provided me with lifts to our away games. Our team is more than the 11 players who take to the field, and all of the office staff ensure that everything runs smoothly off the field. I have not mentioned Tracey or Jack, but they too have given help when I have requested anything.

Sincere thanks also to each and every one of the spectators who came along to watch Second XI games this season, your support has been very much appreciated. Over the close season I shall miss all the teas and coffees that you have provided me with plus the copious amounts of sweets, not to mention the odd cake or two.

Finally, last but by no means least, very sincere thanks to Dan Nice for all his help throughout the season, an absolute unsung hero at the FCG (don’t even think about using your Editorial License to take that bit out). Dan is available 24/7, and is always a great help to me, nothing is ever too much trouble for him, IT problems, match reports, scoreboard issues, ‘Dan the Man’ can sort it. Ring him, text, or email him, prompt reply, and problem solved every time within minutes or even seconds. Top bloke!

Editor’s note – we’d all like to thank you Pete, not only for your humorous reports, but also all the hours you put in with scoring, stats and travelling, it’s very much appreciated by everyone here.

Matters LCFC now for me to give my full attention to for the next seven months or so. In the meantime Merry Christmas Everybody… (Slade 1973) #perplexedlookingemoji

* The Second XI fixtures are now complete, but you can access Pete’s reports for the entire season through the link HERE