Seconds edged out in Trophy opener

SECOND XI TROPHY | Northamptonshire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

RESULT | Northamptonshire CCC (two points) won by three wickets

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Leicestershire Second XI commenced their 2019 SET campaign with a trip to Wantage Road to face Northamptonshire. In the SET Leicestershire are in the Northern Group, and play six matches. The top two teams in the Northern & Southern groups to through to the Semi-Finals.

There was a hint of symmetry in Leicestershire Second XI’s opening two fixtures as last week we found ourselves in Southampton, and now here we are in Northampton. I suppose with Hampton included in the name of the place you could say it is quite amazing.

I safely negotiated the multitude of stairs that lead up to the Scorers Suite at Wantage Road, My Northamptonshire ‘opposite number’ today was, no one other than Quentin aka Q. The gentleman whose party piece is rattling off the Shipping Forecast areas in word perfect order. You may think that I would immediately be ‘flying the white flag’, and have a look of exasperation on my face at thought of being incarcerated in a confined space for seven hours, with a person who is legendary for their ability to perform such a mind-boggling feat.

Dreading the fact that in those seven hours I will be traversing the shores of the UK from Tyne to Trafalgar, Bailey to Biscay, and Dover to Dogger! Insomniacs the length and breadth of the country would be envious of my challenge, whereby now I had the look of a rabbit transfixed by car headlights. However, Q’s unique metrological knowledge, and studious outer persona belies a chap who is very good company, and has much knowledge of the EFL Divisions 1& 2, and is very much worldly wise on many subjects in the rich tapestry of life. However, I could see Q on Mastermind with his specialist subject being, guess what, the Shipping Forecast!

We had a very close game of cricket that ebbed and flowed, both sides being in with a chance of winning up until the penultimate over. Northamptonshire getting home by three wickets with eight balls remaining.

Leicestershire CCC posted 306-7 from their allotted 50 overs, Hassan Azad weighing in with 90, ably supported by Ateeq Javid (54), and Aadil Ali (42). Northamptonshire were indebted to opener Ben Curran, who made a matchwinning 116* in their successful run chase.

Callum Parkinson skippered Leicestershire, won the toss, and elected to bat. A cloudless sky greeted the players when they took to the field, the sun was shining, but the temperature had a sub zero feel about it. I was extremely cold. Ellie our Physio lent me one of her coats. It was akin to getting not a quart, but a gallon into a pint pot. I managed to get my svelte like figure into the coat, albeit feeling a little snug!

There were some 30 spectators present when play commenced, hardy souls one and all. They were dressed in clothing more akin to a Polar Expedition than attire for watching a cricket match. There were a handful of Foxes faithful present amongst the dutiful gathering.

Harry Swindells and Azad opened up for Leicestershire against an opening attack of Azarullah and Jack Twigger. Swindells and Azad brought up a 50 partnership after 7.2, Swindells (26) shortly afterwards being bowled by Azarullah. Ateeq Javid joined Azad. Just prior to Swindells dismissal a problem reared its head for the Dynamic Duo of Q and yours truly in the Scorebox.

A no-ball was bowled but our software only recorded one run, not two as it should be. We were unable to override the system so an email was fired off to the Helpdesk in New Zealand. A reply came back within 20 minutes acknowledging the malfunction, with sincere apologies. A remedy was given to correct the situation, but we could not change things until the break in innings. Consequently the electric Scoreboard was showing the correct score, but was a few runs in front of the Scorers, as a result of this ‘No Ball Nightmare’. Sincere thanks to Michael the NCCC Scoreboard Operator for his detailed liaison with the Official Scorers.

Azad and Javid brought up the 100 after 16.5 overs. This coincided with Azad’s 50 (5x4/1x6) 55b, and also 50 for the second wicket partnership. Wainman having replaced Twigger at the Lyn Wilson End. A blockbuster moving starring Dustin Hoffman (Rainman) taking over from a sitcom character form Only Fools and Horses (Twigger).

Northants skipper Charlie Thurston rotated his bowlers with Ben Claydon and Saif Zaib also called upon. Azad and Javid brought up their 100 partnership from 119 balls, and soon afterwards Javid went to his 50 (6x4) from 70 balls with a boundary through mid-wicket off Azarullah. Azad played a powerful reverse sweep off Zaib that arrowed to the boundary taking him to 63.

Javid (54, 72b) went caught at mid-off by Zaib off Azarullah, the Foxes on 174-2 from 30.5 overs. Just afterwards Azad’s fine innings came to an end when he was caught behind by keeper Gouldstone off Azarullah. Azad (90, 93b, 10x4, 1x6), who can soak up balls for fun in the red ball game, showed that he can admirably adapt to the white ball format. A commanding, assured, and diligent knock at the top of the innings from The Duke (of Azad).

Aadil launched a brutal assault on the bowling, hitting the biggest maximum of the day, when he pulled a short ball from seamer Wainman that flew out of the ground, disappearing into the garden of one of the nearby houses. I am sure the speed of the ball increased as it rocketed out of the ground. In the same over Arron Lilley launched a slower ball from Wainman over the long-on boundary for a maximum. Lilley savage on the bowling.

However, next ball Lilley (21, 14b) was caught at deep gully by Bramley off Wainman. Bramley not the apple of Lilley’s eye (groan). Aadil meanwhile was finding the boundary with regularly, taking Zaib for three boundaries in an over, and also taking Wainman for a maximum. Parkinson (1) went caught by Bramley, again at deep gully off Wainman. Foxes 243-5 from 39.3 overs.

Two overs later, Aadil 42 (34b, 5x4, 1x6) was caught behind by Gouldstone off Wainman. Dieter Klein and Don Butchart had added 38 for the seventh wicket, when Butchart (25) 31b was caught at deep mid-on by substitute fielder Emilio Gay off Twigger. Klein with a run a ball 22* and Gavin Griffiths (4*, 3b). Leicestershire closing on 306-7 from their 50 overs. Azarullah returned figures of 3-62 off 10, Wainman 3-63 off 10. Twigger was the other wicket taker with 1-50 off eight.

A veritable nugget of information that I learnt during the Leicestershire innings was that of the 31 Shipping Forecast areas around our coastline there are only two containing four letters, Sole and Tyne. The Shipping Forecast area containing the most letters is South East Iceland (16 letters). Good old Q, Scorer, Coastguard, Harbour Master and Bosun rolled into one! Q is also well-versed in the antics of the late Steeplejack Fred Dibner, but we will leave that for another time.

Richard Levi and Ben Curran opened up for the Steelbacks against an opening attack of Dieter Klein and Gavin Griffiths. The score had progressed to 31 when Levi lifted Griffiths for a maximum, from the next ball Levi (14) was bowled by Griffiths, Northants 31-1 from 3.2 overs.

Zaib and Curran added 63 for the second wicket, their 50 partnership coming off 61 balls. Curran was looking very accomplished, and would prove to be the thorn in Leicestershire’s side. Zaib (26, 42b) went magnificently caught by Azad at long-leg off the bowling of left arm seamer Adam Barton. The ball was travelling head height at express speed, Azad taking the catch to his left. You will have to go a long way to see a better catch, also taking into account the cold temperature, Azad’s fingers must have felt somewhat numb even before he snaffled the ball. Great effort by The Duke.

Thurston (4) went caught by Harry Swindells off Will Davis. I was sitting right behind the bowler’s arm, and the delivery from Davis had a beautiful shape on it, hitting the deck, moving away, and taking the outside edge. Bowling Coach Matt Mason would have been purring at the perfection of it.

Harry Gouldstone (6) soon followed when he was caught in the deep by Don Butchart, again off the bowling of Davis. Northants on 107-4 from 20 overs and looking in a bit of trouble. Curran then forged a 50 partnership with Bramley. Curran went to his 50 (62b, 6x4), and soon afterwards the 50 partnership between the pair came up from 45 balls.

Immediately afterwards Bramley (33, 29b) went lbw to Lilley. Bramley not ‘scrumping’ any further runs from the Tameside Twirler, Northants 157-5 from 27.4 overs. Ben Claydon, with a run a ball 20, added 42 for the sixth wicket with Curran. Claydon going bowled by Lilley. Northants 199-6 from 33.3 overs.

That was as good as it got for County as a seventh wicket partnership of 86 between Curran and Twigger all but saw Northants home. They added 50 from 44 balls, Curran went to a superb 100 (103b, 8x4, 2x6). Twigger (42, 44b) eventually went caught at long-on by Lilley off Parkinson.

Northants 285-7 from 45.3 overs, needing a further 22 from 27 balls. Curran (116*, 116b) and Wainman (9*, 13b) safely saw Northamptonshire home by three wickets with eight balls remaining. Northants 307-7 from 48.4. Davis returning figures of 2-35 from 7.4. Lilley 2-63 from 9, Barton 1-29 off 7, Griffiths 1-49 from 8 and Parkinson 1-59 from 9 were the other wicket takers. Northamptonshire 2 points, Leicestershire 0 points.

I cannot close today’s despatches without further reference to the legend that is Q. There are seven Shipping Forecast areas that begin with the letter F. The Shipping Forecast can be heard four times a day on BBC Radio 4 at 0048, 0520, 1201, and 1754 hours. I am off for a lie down in a darkened room.

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