7th July 2019
Foxes on the Wright path
DAY 1 | Leicestershire CCC 124 for four v Durham CCC 117
SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE
REACTION | Leicestershire CCC seamer Will Davis spoke to BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae at stumps. The interview is available HERE
REPORT | Leicestershire CCC ended day one with a lead despite visitors Durham CCC winning the toss and opting to bat first at the Fischer County Ground.
Chris Wright took his maiden five-wicket haul for as the north-east county were dismissed for 117 following outstanding by the attack in the ninth Specsavers County Championship game of the season.
It meant that the visitors had lost their last 30 wickets for 244 runs on this ground having been shot out for 61 and 67 in the corresponding fixture last year.
In reply, County ended the day at 124 for four thanks in large to a well-constructed half-century from Paul Horton, who passed 12,000 first-class career runs in the process.
The Foxes made one change from the side that drew at Northamptonshire CCC as Gavin Griffiths came in for Dieter Klein, while Durham CCC also opted for a solitary switch as young left arm seamer Jack Campbell was handed his county debut.
On a sunny morning with a good pitch, the visitors opted for a toss and then chose to bat when the coin landed their way.
Leicestershire CCC got off to a good start, claiming a bowling point within 90 minutes of play. It set the tone for the day.
The first two wickets were both leg before; Muhammad Abbas trapped Alex Lees (5) while Gareth Harte (18) was beaten by a Wright delivery that nipped back sharply off the seam to pin him right in front after the seamer had switched to the Bennett End.
County’s third breakthrough was claimed by Will Davis as Jack Burnham (4) chipped straight to Hassan Azad at square-leg.
Wright, who bowled a threatening line and length throughout, then got a delivery to hold its line and Graham Clark (4) edged into the waiting hands of Colin Ackermann at second slip.
Suddenly the visitors were at 55 for four and in need of a partnership but when Liam Trevaskis (3) propped forward to Neil Dexter and missed a delivery destined for middle and off, he was lbw to the all-rounder and the visitors were at 64 for five.
While wickets were falling, visiting captain Cameron Bancroft held firm, just as he had done in the previous two games at Sussex CCC and Lancashire CCC.
The Australian played some attractive strokes, particularly through the off-side, but a key feature of his play was leaving and defending in the opening session. This was crucial given Abbas and Wright caused plenty of problems with seam movement and swing.
Bancroft got through to lunch on 36 - no mean feat - but fell to the very first ball of the afternoon session. Having showed impeccable judgement before the interval, Bancroft edged a delivery from Abbas that he will have wished he had left well alone.
Lewis Hill did the honours behind the stumps to make it a second point for the Foxes.
It seemed written in the stars that former Foxes Ned Eckersley and Ben Raine would be paired together at the wicket, and they had a rebuilding job to do at 76 for six.
Raine was relieved to see an inside edge run a way for four but a firmly struck pull also flew across the lush turf.
With Eckersley also finding the fence when the opportunity arose, it was clear that the Foxes would need to split the pair quickly.
Wright did just that, taking a wicket with the first ball of a new spell as Raine (15) was less fortunate with another inside edge.
The on-song seamer then had Nathan Rimmington (2) caught at slip and soon had five when Eckersley selflessly looked to clear mid-off but succeeded only in picking out Abbas.
Maximum bowling points were in the bag, and Durham CCC’s innings came to its conclusion as Chris Rushworth (2) was palpably lbw to Davis. There were still 14 overs until tea at this stage.
The Foxes needed a solid start and got one as Horton and Hassan Azad played the new ball well. The skipper found time to play one exquisite drive through cover point while Azad picked up a brace of boundaries off his pads.
Horton reached his first-class landmark in reaching 18, but their alliance was ended by Raine, who struck with his seventh ball when nipping one back to trap Azad (14) in front.
Opener Horton continued to pepper the boundary, playing predominantly in the arc through backward point and cover, but also finding time to clip one off his pads and send a drive racing down the ground.
As he homed in on a half-century, Horton lost Dexter (2), who received a good delivery from Raine that shaped to take the outside edge and flew to Bancroft at second slip.
Horton passed 50 for the 90th time in first-class cricket from 75 balls (7x4) but was dismissed without further addition as Rushworth beat a defensive stroke.
Mark Cosgrove (21) clattered consecutive fours off Campbell through mid-on and square-leg, but typical of the day, there was another twist as Raine dismissed him lbw from around the wicket.
The game was now back open from the visitors’ perspective with 14.4 overs still remaining. However, steady batting from Ackermann (22no) and Harry Dearden (14no) not only guided the Foxes into the lead, but also into stumps.
It was not totally without alarm - indeed, both were slightly fortunate not to be run out in the closing stages of a gripping day - but they remained at the wicket to keep the Foxes in a handy position.
FIGURES (1st inns) | Abbas 13-7-24-2, Wright 13-5-30-5, Davis 9.3-2-21-2, Dexter 4-1-15-1, Griffiths 8-2-24-0.
TEAM | Horton (capt), Azad, Cosgrove, Ackermann, Davis, Dearden, Dexter, Hill (wk), Klein, Wright, Abbas.
Durham CCC | Bancroft (capt), Lees, Harte, Burnham, Clark, Trevaskis, Eckersley (wk), Raine, Rimmington, Rushworth, Campbell.
IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.