Bates and Welch make tons for Seconds

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP | Leicestershire CCC v Northamptonshire CCC

SCORE | Leicestershire CCC 448 for nine declared v Northamptonshire 314 for eight declared and 30 for two

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Leicestershire CCC had an excellent day on day two of the SEC against Northamptonshire CCC at Loughborough Town CC. In reply to Northamptonshire CCC’s 314-8 declared, Leicestershire CCC posted a score of 448-9 declared.

This was thanks to triallist Nick Welch (119) on his debut for the Second XI, and LCCC Academy member Sam Bates (102), who registered his first Second XI century. The pair shared a possible match-defining sixth wicket stand of 205. Sam Evans (76) gave valuable support at the top of the innings. Northamptonshire CCC closed on 30-2, trailing by 104 runs.

Overnight Ben Curran and Tom Sole had been called up to Northamptonshire CCC’s First XI T20 squad. Saif Zaib coming in as a replacement, who also took over captaincy duties from Curran. Northamptonshire CCC going into day two with 11 players, as opposed to 12 players as permitted under SEC rules. Northamptonshire CCC’s non batter remained unchanged.

A hot summer morning was in evidence at Park Road, Loughborough, along with a decent number of spectators for a Second XI fixture. Leicestershire CCC resumed from their overnight 39-0, Ateeq Javid 24* and Sam Evans 13*, Leicestershire CCC trailing Northamptonshire CCC by 275 runs.

There were some Heath Robinson skills in evidence in the scorebox as both scorers had the back of their laptops draped with a tea towel as protection from the hot morning sun.

Seamers Ben Bhabra and Harry Bates opened the attack for Northamptonshire CCC. In the third over of the morning Javid (28, 29b) went lbw to Bhabra. Jack Nightingale joined Evans, who sumptuously drilled Bhabra through the covers for boundaries from consecutive balls a couple of overs later. Nightingale also nursed Bhabra to the ropes on two occasions as well just afterwards.

The 50 partnership (98b) between the pair came up after 27.4 overs when Evans sent seamer Liam Grey through the covers for another boundary. Evans went to his 50 (109b, 7x4) when he took a single off left arm spinner Zaib, the score on 113-1 from 35.5 overs.

Northamptonshire CCC were rattling through their overs very quickly as for the majority of the morning session they employed three left arm spinners, Zaib, Simon Kerrigan, and Connor Haddow.

During the morning’s play there were a couple of distinguished visitors to the scorebox namely Worcestershire First XI scorer Phil Mellish, who had stopped off in Nottingham on his way back from Worcestershire CCC’s Championship match up at Durham, in readiness for Thursday’s Vitality Blast game against Nottinghamshire CCC.

First-Class umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy also called by on his way back home ‘up north’ following a game ‘down south’. O’Shaughnessy’s informed me that his godson Sam Dutton was playing for Northamptonshire CCC. I told Steve that Dutton had been dismissed lbw in Northants first innings, and that he may wish to have a word with the umpire concerned!

Evans smote Zaib for two maximums, both straight down the ground, in three balls, soon afterwards Nightingale (32, 85b) fell from his perch when caught at first slip by Dutton off Kerrigan. Unfortunately for Big Jack, as he was looking on song.

Evans (76, 127b) went shortly afterwards bowled by Zaib, Leicestershire CCC 140-3 from 41.3 overs. A busy day for Sam as he also had to attend Loughborough University for his Graduation Ceremony.

A degree of success for Sam today both out in the middle and in the classroom. Don Butchart (8*) and Charlie Home (14*) safely took County into lunch on 161-3 (52), Northamptonshire CCC having bowled an incredible 43 overs in the morning session.

Yesterday whilst scoring we had 11 seasoned aficionado’s sitting adjacent to the scorebox, it was interesting listening to their conversations on a variety of matters sport related, it was very much like Loughborough’s version of ‘Last of The Summer Wine’. At the time I said to my colleague Q, that if these chaps are here tomorrow I need not buy a morning paper, as I will know everything that is going on, or is expected to go on, in the world from listening to them.

Phil, the Worcestershire Scorer, sat amongst them for the majority of the morning session. Phil fitted in perfectly. He was in pontificating overdrive mode, offering opinions, analysis, observations and solutions on all subjects. They covered everything from Loughborough to Lord’s, and from Worcester to the WACA. If Sir Norman Wrassle, the much-respected Chairman of the Tripe Marketing Board, were to resign from his post, Phil would be a shoo-in for his replacement.

In the third over after lunch, Home put Haddow under the hammer, hitting the left arm spinner for a huge maximum. Home (32, 68b) then went stumped by Adam King off the bowling of Zaib. Home (out) and away to the pavilion. Leicestershire CCC 188-4 from 59.5 overs. In the next over, without addition to the score Butchart (17, 52b) was caught at first slip by Dutton off Haddow. County 188-5 from 60.1 overs. The Don of Zimbabwean origin having been recently joined at the crease by another player of Zimbabwean origin, Nick Welch.

Everyone may not be aware of that rare bit of information on Welch. There then followed a scintillating partnership between Welch and Sam Bates. They posted a 50-run partnership from 55 balls when Bates took Kerrigan for a maximum over mid-wicket. Bates was going at a run a ball, and in the 50 alliance he had made 37no to Welch’s 12no.

It was the second time this season that Bates had taken boundaries off a spinner who has played for England, Mason Crane receiving similar treatment down at Southampton in the Second XI’s first game of the season. Welch struck Kerrigan to the ropes for a boundary, and hoisted him for a maximum from consecutive balls.

Bates went to his 50 (55b, 7x4, 1x6) when he pulled Zaib through mid-wicket for a boundary. The 100 partnership between the pair came up from 98 balls, and Northamptonshire CCC took the new ball after 83 overs. The first delivery with the new ball brought Welch his 50 (4x4, 2x6) when he clipped Bhabra for a single.

Welch launched seamer Ben Claydon for a huge maximum over long-on to bring up the 150 partnership with Bates. The pair had put on the landmark from 166 balls.

Leicestershire CCC went into tea on 347 for five from 91 overs, Welch 77* and Bates 79*. Northamptonshire CCC had bowled (an unheard of) 43 overs in the afternoon session. Welch and Bates were in imperious form despatching the Northamptonshire CCC attack to all parts of the ground. Their 200 partnership came up from 222 balls from the last ball of the 97th over.

My oppo Q was now getting a bit twitchy as his records showed that the highest sixth wicket partnership he had personally scored was 203. Bates went to his 100 (128b, 12x4, 1x6) when he clipped seamer Harry Bates for two through mid-wicket. There was much applause from everyone on the ground when Bates reached the milestone of 100 runs.

The next run scored realised a partnership of 204, Q in dreamland. The partnership between Welch and Bates surpassing the previous highest sixth wicket partnership Q had scored. Q triumphantly informed me that Welch and Bates would now be logged in his annals replacing the previous highest between Kevin Pietersen and Gary Wilson in a game between Oxford MCCU and Surrey at The Parks, Oxford in 2015. I trust that Q can easily find anoraks to fit him. There are more strings to his bow than Forties, Fisher, Tyne and Dogger.

The partnership between Welch and Bates had put on 207 when Bates (102, 131b) was caught at mid-on by Haddow off Harry Bates. A bit ironic as Sam Bates’ younger brother is also called Harry! A maiden Second XI century for the left-handed 19-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, who should be very proud of his achievement.

Welch went to his 100 (114b, 11x4, 3x6) when he took a single to long-off from the bowling of Zaib. Brinder Phagura (19, 10b) went bowled by Zaib, as did Ben Kitt (5, 8b), both batsmen trying to force the pace as a declaration was pending. Leicestershire CCC 432-8 from 104.1 overs.

The declaration came when Welch (119, 122b) was bowled by Kerrigan. It was a great effort from 21-year-old Welch on his debut for Leicestershire Second XI. An accomplished and polished innings. Leicestershire CCC 448-9 declared from 105.4 overs, Nat Bowley (5*, 4b). Wicket-takers for Northamptonshire CCC were: Zaib 4-110 (28), Kerrigan 2-67 (18.4), Bates 1-47 (14), Haddow 1-60 (15),and Bhabra 1-66 (12). Leicestershire CCC leading by 134 runs.

Northamptonshire CCC had 49 minutes to bat until the close of play, overs did not come into it as only six remained to be bowled until the 104 overs for the day had been bowled, and they would be comfortably reeled off in 49 minutes with further time remaining.

Leicestershire CCC claimed two wickets in the 12 overs that were bowled. Opener Emilio Gay (14, 15b) went caught at second slip by Kitt off Alex Evans. Northamptonshire 23-1 (6.4). Fellow opener, also a left hander, Zaib (6, 26b) went caught behind by Bates off Kitt. A diving catch to his left by Bates rounding off a very satisfactory day for the Groby Gloveman.

There were also three chances that went begging in the slip cordon in the 12 overs bowled. Northamptonshire CCC closed on 30-2 (12), trailing by 104 runs. Claydon (1*, 17b), Bhabra (6*, 14b). Wickets for Evans 1-8 (6), and Kitt 1-19 (5). Off spinner Bowley bowled the last over of the day, a maiden. Leicestershire CCC 7 points, Northamptonshire CCC 6 points.

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