Welch top-scores again for Seconds

SECOND XI FRIENDLY | Lancashire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

SCORE | Lancashire CCC 134 v Leicestershire CCC 224 and 158 for eight

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

There was a lot of standing water following heavy overnight rain, on the tarpaulin sheeting protecting the square when we arrived at Northern CC, Crosby for Day two of the SEF between Lancashire CCC and Leicestershire CCC.

The groundstaff were in action bright and early, so everything was in order for play to get underway at the designated time of 10.30am.

County held the upper hand on the day. Lancashire CCC were dismissed for 134, giving Leicestershire a first innings lead of 90. In their second innings, Leicestershire CCC advanced to 158 for eight, leading by 248 runs when bad light, and rain ended play for the day. Nick Welch recorded another half-century, finishing on 71no.

Before embarking on details of today’s play it was very remiss of me not to mention yesterday the three bags of sweets that a gentleman so kindly bought to give to me at Kibworth last week during our SEC game against Lancashire.

As I could not be there due to another engagement, Garry the Lancashire Second XI Scorer kindly brought them up to Northern CC for me. Sincere thanks to the gent who brought them for me. Breaking News: One bag demolished so far.

Lancashire CCC made one change to their team overnight, Robert Lord replacing Chris Sanders, who had picked up an injury on day one. There was a sparse crowd present when play commenced, but the number of spectators increased steadily throughout the morning as play progressed.

It was a warm blustery morning when play got underway. Lancashire resuming from their overnight 66 for five (22), George Balderson (6* 28b) and Liam Hurt (8*, 11b). Alex Evans and Ben Mike opened the Leicestershire attack.

Balderson and Hurt batted comfortably during the opening exchanges. They brought up their 50 partnership (86 balls) when the score reached 99-5 (31 overs). Lancashire CCC’s problems arose when two breaks in play occurred as a result of rain.

The Red Rose county lost a wicket soon after the restart following each interruption. The players went off at 11.43am for rain, but were only off the field for four minutes, the Umpires did not leave the square.

Two balls after the restart Hurt (42, 58b went caught behind by keeper Sam Bates, who took the catch down the leg-side off the bowling of Mike. Toby Lester joined Balderson but failed to get off the mark. Lester (0, 10b) was trapped in front by Ish Sohi. Jack Morley joined Balderson, but had only been at the crease for one ball when rain drove the players from the field again at 12.09pm. There was a 17-minute interruption.

The fifth ball following the resumption brought another wicket, Balderson (25, 100b) pinned in front by Brinder Phagura. Leicestershire CCC made short work of getting the final two wickets. Robert Lord was expertly caught by Ben Mike at third slip off the bowling of Sohi. The ball travelling at rocket propelled speed into Mike’s mitts.

Morley (2, 12b) was comprehensively bowled by Phagura, stumps splayed, and accompanying bails flying in all directions. Lancashire CCC 134 all out. George Burrows (0*) 5b. Leicestershire leading by 90 runs. There were only 8 minutes remaining until Lunch, so Lunch was duly taken. Wicket takers for Leicestershire were, Evans 4-32 (14), Phagura 2-24 (9.4), Sohi 2-20 (8), Mike 1-40 (12), the other wicket being a run out.

The Scorers sit in the bar area of the Northern CC Clubhouse, with a TV in the background and Sky Sports News being on all the time with commentary. The familiar music, on the hour, at the start of each bulletin, and after every advert break a familiar sound as we are now into day two.

The commentary can be heard early in the day, but when the bar is busy the conversations of the customers drown out the commentary. I am going to have a stiff neck with keeping looking over my shoulder at the Test Match on the TV tomorrow.

During the morning session a young lad in full Everton FC kit sat in an area in the bar just across from me, with his father. Upon seeing his Everton kit I could not get the theme tune of an old BBC TV programme, circa early 1960s, Z Cars out of my mind. The uninitiated will not know that Everton come out to the tune of Z Cars as do Watford.

On theme tunes when football teams take to the field here’s one for that Dan Nice chappie back at the FCG, as he reckons he knows a bit about football, and always seems to be adding comments to my Reports, let’s see if he knows the answer to this little poser then. Chelsea walk out to the tune of The Liquidator by The Harry J All Stars.

In the past 50 years two other football teams have also walked out (but ran out in those days) to the same tune, although they do not do so now. Over to you Danny Boy! I know who they are, so have a bit of that!! Google is a no go zone before you start! I give you licence to mention the names of the two clubs, if you know them (Editor’s note: the past 50 years? I’m not old enough sadly Pete!)

Nick Green and Sam Bates again opened the batting for Leicestershire in the second innings. Green got off to a flyer taking boundaries off Hurt, and Balderson, who had replaced Hurt’s opening partner Burrows. Green (20, 24b) however was first to go when he was bowled, dragging one onto his stumps from Hurt.

Jack Nightingale (1, 5b) was pinned in front by Balderson, and shortly afterwards Don Butchart (2, 17b) was adjudged lbw to Hurt. Bates meanwhile playing a very defensive game, a lady named Dorothy (Dot) Ball will have a twinkle in her eye for him.

Bates (8, 42b) was next to go bowled by Hurt. Mike (8, 28b) soon followed caught in the mid-on area by Haseeb Hameed off Burrows. County 50-5 (22.2). The first innings top scorer Welch, and Ajay Khunti, then mounted a salvage operation.

At 3.34pm with the score on 69-5 (27.2) a heavy downpour took the players from the field, now the fun starts. The umpires are standing in the middle, rain hammering down, but no sign of the groundstaff. A shout comes over the radio from the umpires enquiring as to the whereabouts of the groundstaff. That’s as to what they enquired, but their selection of words was somewhat different.

My colleague Garry, as a result of the heavy rain, was up a ladder retrieving his camera from the top of the sightscreen, to protect it from the rain, so I took the call from the umpires. Only one thing for it I thought, find the gentleman with the suit (remember him?) who was rolling the wicket between innings yesterday.

As all the spectators had come into the clubhouse to shelter from the rain it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. After a few minutes I found him, the problem had occurred because the key to the tractor, that pulls the covers, had been mislaid. The key was subsequently found, covers pulled into place, and two rather wet Umpires trooped back to the clubhouse. Tea was taken.

Play resumed after a 58-minute delay, inclusive of the tea Interval. Welch and Khunti had added 38 runs, the highest partnership of the innings, when Khunti (18, 34b) was caught at first slip by Ed Fluck off Balderson. A gritty innings from Khunti who showed good maturity whilst at the crease.

Phagura joined Welch. The pair looked comfortable, and gradually extended Leicestershire CCC’s lead. Welch was picking up runs from the majority of balls he faced, and looked totally untroubled by the Lancashire CCC attack. Phagura (14, 36b) was run out at the bowler’s end going for a second run. Jack Morley at a deepish backward point making a direct hit on the stumps.

It was tough on Phagura, who looked in good fettle. Leicestershire CCC 123-7 (46 overs). Welch went to his 50 (3x4, plus one all-run four) from 99 balls, when he drilled Lord through mid-wicket to the boundary.

Nat Bowley (3, 18b) went lbw to Balderson. Sohi joined Welch, but only one further over was possible before bad light, and rain brought an end to the days play at 6.32pm. Leicestershire CCC 158-8 (54 overs), Welch 71* (118b), Sohi 1* (3b). Leicestershire CCC leading by 248 runs going into the final day.

An excellent accomplished innings by Welch, to go with his 64 in the first innings. Wicket-takers for Lancashire CCC were: Hurt 3-31 (15), Balderson 3-37 (13), Burrows 1-32 (12), the other wicket being a run out.

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