Seconds well on top in Stourbridge

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP | Worcestershire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

SCORE | Leicestershire CCC 519 for three declared v Worcestershire CCC 279 and 45 for two (f/o)

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

Leicestershire CCC had another excellent day, albeit the pre-lunch session was a tough one. It was a hard-fought morning session as County did not claim a wicket, but all began to fall into place after lunch. Worcestershire CCC were dismissed in their first innings for 279 thanks to an excellent contribution from Tom Taylor, who bowled impressively in taking three for 21 from 12 overs.

Youngsters Uday Modhwadia and Alex Evans chipped in with three and two wickets respectively, while Ateeq Javid and Aadil Ali both claimed a wicket each at important times. Worcestershire CCC were asked to follow on, and Gavin Griffiths picked up the two wickets to fall towards the end of the day. Worcestershire closed at 45 for two trailing Leicestershire by 195 runs.

Upon arrival at Stourbridge CC this morning, first up for me was a meander around the confines of the adjoining Stourbridge FC who ply their trade in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Central League. Leicestershire sides Coalville Town FC and Barwell FC play in the same League.

Upon pressing my nose up against the window of the club shop, that had been firmly locked for the closed season, I noticed a stack of programmes on the counter. I thought must get one to stick with my collection of programmes of all football grounds that I have visited, albeit I have not seen a game played here. I made a mental note to tell a member of the groundstaff of my requirement, which I duly did, and it paid dividends as you will read later.

Also, before play began, whilst having a look at the cricket memorabilia in the Stourbridge CC Clubhouse, I noticed a shirt bearing the name Whitticase in a frame on the wall. It was the very same Phil Whitticase, formerly of Leicestershire CCC with Stourbridge being Phil’s boyhood club.

A bit of bridge building to do with my scoring colleague ‘Sister Suzi’ before play commenced. Yesterday she asked if I had the postcode for the ground. Quick as a flash I rattled it off to her. When she breezed into the scorebox this morning, huffing and puffing, but politely smiling between gritted teeth, she announced that she had driven into a hotel car park en route to the ground. I had given her the postcode of the hotel we were staying at, not the ground! ‘Sister Suzi’ is somewhat of a Head Honcho in the scoring world, so has no doubt marked my card.

It was a fresh, sunny morning, with high cloud greeting the players as they took to the field. Worcestershire CCC resumed from their overnight 16-1, Oli Westbury 10*, and nightwatchman Mahaz Ahmed 0*. Worcestershire CCC trailed by 513 runs. There were not as many spectators present at the start of play as there were yesterday, but numbers increased as the day went on.

Evans and Griffiths opened the attack for Leicestershire. Westbury and Ahmed progressed without trouble. After eight overs of the morning, the umpires, who had taken the field in shirt sleeve order, returned to the pavilion for their overcoats, as the chill in the air was taking its toll. Westbury and Ahmed posted a 50 partnership from 90 balls when the score reached 65 for one from the last ball of the 21st over.

After 21.2 overs a glazier’s van appeared on the far side of the ground. The occupants of said van inspected the broken window in the Stourbridge FC clubhouse. Harry Dearden put his collar up, pulled his cap down, and looked rather sheepish as he nervously whistled and changed fielding positions between overs.

Westbury went to his 50 (95b, 9x4), the score 95 for one from 30.5 overs. Westbury and Ahmed brought up their 100 partnership from 245 balls. At the end of the over lunch was taken with Worcestershire CCC on 119 for one from 44 overs. Westbury 66*, Ahmed 38*. A fine effort from nightwatchman Ahmed; he certainly had plenty of oil in his lamp, and put in a lot of overtime completing a full morning shift in addition to his nocturnal duties.

Leicestershire CCC had a good afternoon session, and reasserted their authority on the game. In the first over after lunch, Ahmed (38, 122b) went lbw to Taylor. Two overs later Westbury (67, 150b) was bowled by Taylor. Worcestershire CCC now 120-3 from 46.4 overs. At the end of the over Taylor had figures of 6-6-0-3.

A scorer’s nightmare was now developing out in the middle, brothers Jack and Josh Haynes were at the crease, both with long sleeved shirts on, and both with number 17 on their back. You couldn’t make it up, the saving grace was that one of them was left-handed. The miserly, accurate, penetrative and probing Taylor conceded his first runs from the 40th delivery he bowled.

At 2.38pm the glazier’s van returned, and two gentlemen set about replacing the broken window in the Stourbridge FC clubhouse. It was all happening as seven minutes later a knock came on the Scorebox door, an officer of Stourbridge FC presented me with a match programme from last season, after being told of my request from one of the groundsmen. I thanked him sincerely, but he had the last word saying that he was a WBA supporter, and that Leicester had stopped The Baggies going up by recalling Harvey Barnes from his loan period at The Hawthorns.

The Glaziers had finished their job of replacing the window in the Stourbridge FC Clubhouse at 2.58pm. They dropped into the scorebox, gave me a sealed envelope, and asked me to pass it on to one HE Dearden Esq (not really, but it adds to the story). I just do not know how I keep up to date with events on the cricket field with all this going on in the background. Additionally I noticed a green bus passing down the busy High Street on the far side of the ground. All previous buses that having been sighted were red, where’s Blowers when you need him?

The Haynes hiatus came to an end when left-handed Josh Haynes (21, 33b) gave a catch to Sam Evans at mid-off from a delivery by Alex Evans. Teamwork personified by the Evans duo. Sam having moved the screen at the Football Ground End following the ball before, as Alex wished to bowl round the wicket - first ball he bowls round the wicket, he gets a wicket. Good heavens x2,

Brother Jack Haynes (20, 58b) followed six overs later when he was caught behind by Harry Swindells off Uday Modhwadia. Nick Hammond (18, 32b) was bowled off his pads by Javid leaving The Pears on 216-6 from 73 overs. Leicestershire CCC then had a ‘Brucie Bonus’. Aadil Ali was called into the attack to bowl the penultimate over before tea, with the last ball of the over, Josh Breed (5, 20b) was trapped in front. Aadil gleefully bounded down the wicket to be congratulated by the slip cordon, close fielders, and the accompanying Swindler.

There was one further over before tea bowled by Javid. Worcestershire CCC went into tea at 233 for seven from 79 overs. Milton 42*, Pennington 0*. The new ball was due in one over’s time. County took it immediately. Taylor and Griffiths doing the honours. In the second over with the new cherry, Milton went to his 50 (67b, 6x4).

Taylor and Griffiths did not get a breakthrough and were replaced by Modhwadia and Evans after they had bowled seven overs between them. Modhwadia struck in the first over of his spell when he bowled Pennington (15, 27b). In the next over Evans trapped Ed Bragg (0, 3b) in front. Worcestershire CCC were bowled out with the last ball of the 92nd over when Matt Davis (1, 9b) was lbw to Modhwadia. Worcestershire CCC all out for 279 trailing by 240 runs - and asked to follow-on.

Fantastic bowling from Taylor who returned figures of 12-7-21-3. I must mention the two young Leicestershire CCC seam bowlers who gave excellent support and made a telling contribution with the ball. Evans 17-4-36-2 bowled inspired spells, and showed great maturity for one of such tender years, as did Modhwadia 11-1-34-3.

The two took five for 70 between them from a combined 28 overs. A great effort from these two lads as they commence their cricketing journey. It is a big step up for them to be a regular part of the attack in Second XI cricket, and they have certainly hit the ground running. Plenty of promising talent here for our coaching team to work on. Other wicket-takers were Javid 1-14 (5) and Aadil 1-15 (2). Griffiths, Callum Parkinson, and Arron Lilley were wicketless, but all stuck to the task in a fine team effort in dismissing Worcestershire after a tough morning session.

Worcestershire CCC had a minimum of 17 overs to bat when they commenced their follow-on at 5.43pm. Evans and Griffiths opened the attack, Oli Westbury and Tom Fell opening the innings for Worcestershire CCC. County got a breakthrough in the second over when first innings half-centurion Westbury (1, 8b) was caught behind by Swindells off Griffiths.

Jack Haynes joined Fell. Haynes, when on 12*, was put down at forward short-leg off the bowling of Parkinson. Fell and Haynes were within 2.3 overs of Stumps when Fell (22, 50b) was trapped in front by Griffiths. When I see Fell at the crease for some reason I always think of horses that I have backed in the Grand National down the years, wonder why that is?

Josh Haynes joined his brother Jack. Yes, as in the first innings, both wearing shirts buttoned to the wrist both with Number 17 on their backs, I am going to wake up in a cold sweat tonight thinking about what lies in waiting when play gets underway in the morning.

The brothers Haynes safely took Worcestershire CCC into stumps at 45 for two. Jack Haynes 14* Josh Haynes 4*. Impressive spell from Griffiths in the Worcestershire second innings, returning figures of 2-11 (5). Worcestershire CCC trailing by 195 runs with eight wickets in hand going into the final day. Worcestershire CCC four points, Leicestershire CCC eight points.

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