County post 252 at Cheltenham
DAY 1 | Gloucestershire CCC v Leicestershire CCC 252
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
REACTION | Leicestershire CCC allrounder Neil Dexter spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae after day one at Cheltenham. Click HERE to listen.
REPORT | Neil Dexter and Paul Horton led the way as Leicestershire CCC posted a hard-working 252 against Gloucestershire CCC at Cheltenham today.
Harry Swindells (32) and Chris Wright (30) also played useful innings in the middle order while the home bowlers shared the wickets as the Foxes were bowled out in the final over of the day.
With the aftermath of England’s dramatic one-ball super over win against New Zealand in the final of the 2019 Cricket World Cup final ringing in every cricket fan’s ears, Leicestershire CCC turned their attentions to the Specsavers County Championship.
The Foxes travelled to the picturesque college venue to get their second outground fixture of the season underway against a Gloucestershire CCC side that sat only one place and seven points ahead of them at the start of proceedings.
It followed the very recent high-scoring draw at the Fischer County Ground. Hassan Azad had taken the headlines as in posting two Specsavers County Championship centuries in that fixture.
County showed three changes to the side with Harry Swindells coming in to keep wicket, Callum Parkinson returning having previously played at another outground, Aigburth, while Ben Mike was making his first Foxes appearance following a productive loan spell at Warwickshire CCC.
They came in for Lewis Hill, Gavin Griffiths and Mark Cosgrove, the latter whom was struck on the helmet while warming up in the nets.
Horton opted for a coin toss and decided to bat when it landed the right way, so took his place at the wicket with Azad.
Only eight balls of the game had passed - and just two from new Gloucestershire CCC loan signing Ethan Bamber - before Azad (1) was caught by Gareth Roderick down the leg-side. Dexter came out to replace the opener with the Foxes at one for one.
Dexter came in and settled the Foxes alongside Horton to make sure that Gloucestershire CCC did not capitalise on their early breakthrough.
With 10 overs gone, Leicestershire CCC were at 43 for one with both batsmen finding the boundary with ease when the opportunity presented itself.
Horton played as late as possible, guiding a number of deliveries in the third man to backward point region, and also sending one rasping drive racing down the ground towards the Chapel.
The captain was three runs away from his half-century before being dismissed leg before wicket by left arm seamer Matt Taylor. Horton and Dexter had put on a useful 73.
Colin Ackermann came out and saw Leicestershire CCC through to the lunch interval, bringing the first session to an end with a classic sweep into the leg-side for his second boundary of the day.
Leicestershire CCC lunched at 92 for two but it is fair to say the second session belong to the festival hosts.
The duo of Ackermann and Dexter came back out for the second session, and took their time. A total of 32 runs were posted in under an hour before the third wicket of the day was claimed.
It was Ackermann (21) that was dismissed, caught by Graeme van Buuren after lofting the delivery of Taylor high into the leg-side. The batsman was running in hope that van Buuren wouldn’t get underneath the ball - but he kept his concentration.
Harry Dearden (7) came to the crease to replace Ackermann but was out after facing 15 balls. Dearden had recorded his first boundary after sending Ryan Higgins through the covers but, two balls later, was deceived by an off-cutter that disturbed the stumps.
No.3 Dexter played a number of flowing drives through the covers, including three boundaries, and progressed to first 50 of the game from 166 balls (4x4).
But Mike (7) was then bowled by Benny Howell after a delivery beat his forward defensive stroke, and when Dexter (56) was then caught in the slips by Miles Hammond off Australia international Chadd Sayers, the Foxes were struggling at 151 for six.
County now had two youngsters in Swindells and Callum Parkinson at the crease and were seriously in need of a valuable partnership.
Tea came with Leicestershire CCC at 168 for six with the partnership on 17, and the duo continued their good work after the interval.
The partnership of Parkinson and Swindells was nearing 50 as the former drove his first boundary of the day, playing Smith down to long-on and over the boundary. However, Taylor then pinned Parkinson (19) lbw as he claimed his third wicket of the innings.
Their alliance ended at 46, but the pair had done a fine job of stemming the tide of the Gloucestershire CCC attack while playing low risk shots and keeping the scoreboard ticking over.
Wright came out to replace Parkinson and almost immediately was facing the new ball as Gloucestershire CCC took it after 80.4 overs.
The next over saw Swindells bring up the first batting bonus point for Leicestershire CCC as he nudged Sayers out to the leg-side for a quick two.
Wright had come in and found his feet quickly, playing some superb shots all over the outfield including a straight drive that zipped to the boundary.
Swindells played an equally good shot with a wonderful cover drive off Higgins, but then his wicket fell the following ball as the same bowler had the young wicket-keeper lbw for 32.
Will Davis came to the crease to join Wright, who certainly looked in the mood as Leicestershire CCC raced towards their second batting bonus point.
Wright was the next wicket to fall after posting 30 valuable runs. He was bowled by Bamber, who then had Muhammad Abbas (3) held by Tom Smith in the slips, leaving Will Davis 8no. The Foxes had registered their second batting point before Abbas’ dismissal.
TEAM | Horton (capt), Azad, Dexter, Ackermann, Dearden, Mike, Swindells (wk), Parkinson, Wright, Davis, Abbas.
Gloucestershire CCC | Dent (capt), Hammond, Roderick (wk), J Taylor, Howell, van Buuren, Higgins, M Taylor, Sayers, Bamber, Smith.
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.