Ali stars as Seconds draw with Warwickshire

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP | Warwickshire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

SCORE | Warwickshire CCC 290 and 141 for one declared drew with Leicestershire CCC 162 for three declared and 185 for nine

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

We arrived at the Edgbaston Foundation Sports Ground (EFSG) for day three of the SEC encounter between Warwickshire CCC and Leicestershire CCC with the radar showing a 30% chance of rain around midday. The weather has certainly had more than its fare share of a say in Leicestershire’s 2019 SEC campaign to date.

The 30% chance of rain was a little shy of the mark, as 100% of the wet stuff arrived 30 minutes earlier than predicted. Yet again the weather intervened in a SEC match involving Leicestershire CCC in 2019, 45 overs being lost to the elements. However, it led to a gripping finale with the result still in doubt right up until the last ball of the match.

After some heavy rain, half an hour into the day’s play, lasting for only 20 minutes or so, the outfield was not deemed fit for play to resume until 3.00pm, with 42 overs remaining. Warwickshire CCC declared before the resumption challenging Leicestershire CCC to get 270 to win in a minimum of 42 overs.

Aadil Ali, supported briefly by Callum Parkinson, put County in with an outside chance of winning. Arron Lilley played a major role in saving the game, supported by Gavin Griffiths. Last man Andy Jones dutifully played out a maiden for the last over to rubber stamp Lilley’s vigil at the crease. The game ended in a draw.

A lovely summer morning was the order of the day as the players took to the field, a small cluster of spectators on the steps at the City End of the ground. Lord Murray of Harborough also made a fleeting appearance at the ground prior to the stoppage for rain.

Warwickshire CCC resumed their second innings from their overnight 104 for one, Liam Banks 32*, Alex Thomson 9*. Warwickshire CCC held a lead of 232 runs with a minimum of 96 overs available in the day. I was again in position with my buddy Holly at the side of me. Griffiths and Parkinson opened the attack for Leicestershire. Only nine overs were possible before very localised heavy rain forced the players to leave the field at 11.30am.

During the nine overs of play, Banks and Thomson posted a 50 partnership from 85 balls, and Banks went to his 50 (106b, 5x4). When the players left the field Warwickshire CCC were on 141-1 from 36 overs with Banks 53*(110b) and Thomson 24* (49b). Banks had brewed up a respectable innings, achieving his goal, keeping at the crease for the nine overs bowled this morning.

The umpires carried out an Inspection after the heavy rain, and decided that an early Lunch would be taken at 12.45pm, with a view to restarting at 1.25pm. At this juncture Lord Murray of Harborough left the ground with a view to gracing some other unsuspecting cricketing oasis with his knowledgeable presence.

Over the luncheon interval more rain fell on the EFSG, further inspections were carried out by the dutiful Umpiring duo of Messrs Warren and Cousins, after which play was scheduled to restart at 3.00pm. Warwickshire CCC declared their innings. A minimum of 42 overs were available with Leicestershire CCC requiring 270 to win at an asking rate of 6.42 per over.

During the protracted rain break I had a window of opportunity to peruse the 2019/2020 EFL fixtures that had been released earlier in the morning. My hope was that Salford City would be at home when an international break was on so that I could get back to having visited the 92 Football League grounds. We will forget about Spurs’ new ground as I will cross that off when LCFC visit next season. Result! Salford City at home to Cambridge United on the Saturday of the October international break weekend (Editor’s note: I need to visit those two as well to get back to the full quote).

Play got underway at 3.00pm on the dot, Ateeq Javid and Sam Evans opening the innings for Leicestershire against an opening attack of Olly Stone and Ethan Brookes. Evans was straight out of the blocks taking three boundaries from the first 11 balls he received. Javid (2, 6b) shouldered arms to a delivery from Brookes and was bowled.

Aadil joined Evans, and played a masterful innings that nearly swung the game in County’s favour. Two overs after Javid’s dismissal, Evans (15, 19b) was caught at third slip by Daniel Mousley off Brookes.

Aadil then set about the bowling. He deposited the very rapid Stone for a maximum over the slip cordon when attempting a hook, then hit a towering straight maximum off the same bowler with the last ball of the same over. Aadil then gracefully drilled Brookes for consecutive boundaries in the following over. Leicestershire went into tea on 47-2 from 10.

One of the ironies of cricket is that you sit around for a couple of hours or so waiting for the conditions to be playable, play for 40 minutes then go off for tea, but we would not change a thing as it’s all part of the great game (Editor’s note: you can’t go too long without refreshment, Pete).

Time on my hands, time for a little story. After the play got abandoned due to rain on the first day I got into conversation with a gentleman who was assisting the groundstaff putting ‘the ground to bed’. He mentioned that he had been one of the groundstaff for 10 years at The Bescot Stadium, home of Walsall FC.

I told him that I had only been to The Bescot once, and that was in 2003 when Leicester City won 4-1 on their way to Promotion from the Championship. He replied ‘I remember that game your big centre half Steve Walsh scored one of the goals for Leicester’. I responded that it was Matt Elliott who scored one of the goals as Steve Walsh had left Leicester City in 2000.

After a protracted discussion we agreed to disagree. Anyway, I was making my way back to the scorebox after tea, and said gentleman comes up to me and says ‘I owe you an apology mate, I have checked up, and you were right it was Matt Elliott who scored one of your goals’. 1-0 to the LCFC Oracle! (Editor’s note: Never in doubt Pete!)

Harry Swindells took consecutive boundaries off seamer Bailey Wightman in the first over after tea. Aadil and Swindells had added 38 for the third wicket, when Swindells (14, 20b) got underneath a ball from seamer George Garrett, all but put it into orbit, and Ben Griffin at mid-wicket took the catch. Griffin could possibly have thumbed through a selection of the morning papers whist awaiting the ball to come down from the abyss above. Leicestershire CCC now 58-3 from 11.4 overs.

First innings undefeated half-centurion Tom Taylor joined Aadil, who took a maximum and a boundary off Wightman, coupled with a boundary off Garrett. Taylor drilled Garrett to the ropes, but shortly afterwards was caught for 13 (21b) at extra cover by Brookes off Garrett.

Leicestershire CCC 98-4 from 19.1. Clair, called into action, doing a great job here in her ‘Anneka Rice’ role. My buddy, Holly, and I were not 100% sure who took the catch, so Super Clair armed with radio walked around to the far side of the ground to establish who the fielder taking the catch was. She radioed back confirmation that it was Brookes, Wing Woman supreme!

Parkinson joined Aadil, and the pair put County in with a little bit of a chance of victory. Aadil went to his 50 (51b, 5x4,3x6), the score on 105-4 from 20.1 overs. Aadil then took a back seat whilst Parkinson blasted a quintet (that’s five in your language, Parky) of boundaries from 14 deliveries. Seamers Garrett shipping 4 of them and Panayi one.

Unfortunately Parkinson (27, 26b) went caught and bowled by Garrett trying to keep the momentum going. Upon Parkinson’s departure County were 140-5 from 25.3 overs, requiring a further 130 to win from 16.3 overs, an asking rate of 7.97. Ben Mike joined Aadil. The last hour was signalled with County still on 140-5, and a minimum of 16 overs remaining.

Mike took a maximum off spinner Thomson. However, Warwickshire CCC got into the ascendency dismissing Aadil and Mike in the same over. Aadil (73, 78b) went caught by that man Brookes again off Wightman from the second ball of the 31st over. A superb innings from Aadil, who put the team before any personal goal.

It must have been a day for the name, as the winner of the Norfolk Stakes, the 2.30pm at Royal Ascot, today was A’ali.

Three balls later, the fifth ball of the over Mike (11, 15b) tried to pull a shortish ball from Wightman, got something on it as it whistled past his nose, and was caught behind by keeper Michael Burgess. Leicestershire CCC 168-7 from 30.5 overs. It was all about saving the game now with 102 required from 11.1 overs with Lilley and Griffiths at the crease.

Both adapting to the cause, playing dot balls, and leaving anything alone that didn’t merit attention. It came as somewhat of a surprise when Griffiths (2, 24b) was bowled by medium pacer Liam Banks. An over, with interest, from Banks. Leicestershire CCC 174-8 with 3.1 over’s remaining.

My colleague Holly then asked ‘is it Bates at Number 10?’. I thought crikey has Batesy bypassed Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, and got the top job? (Editor’s note: that’s what is known as a conservative estimate of the incoming batsman, but I won’t labour the point)

Bates (2, 5b) received a delivery that was not quite down(ing) his street. He was struck on the toe by a delivery from Wightman, and was gone lbw, from the last ball of the 40th over. There were still two overs to go.

Last man Andy Jones joins Lilley, who has all but taken root at the crease. Lilley faced the penultimate over bowled by Banks, four dots, a boundary off the fifth, no doubt the Manchester Marauder was hoping for a single, dot off the last ball. Last man Jones to face the final over bowled by seamer Wightman. Father figure Lilley had words with his young apprentice, before Jones took guard, and awaited what was to come.

Jones did a great job, four dot balls, four byes down the leg-side off the fifth ball. Last ball, no problem for Jonesy. Whips his gloves off, bat swiftly under his arm, like a bloke who has been at it for years. Leicestershire CCC 185-9 from 42 overs, match drawn.

Great effort from Lilley, who played the major part in saving the game. A destroyer of bowling in white ball cricket, Lilley soaked up 33 balls for 10*. More than one string to his bow. The game in the balance right up until the final delivery. It’s an old cliché, but cricket was the winner. Warwickshire CCC 9 points, Leicestershire CCC 10 points.

Before leaving the EFSG I want to make mention of three of the Match Officials, and one other lady.

Umpires Russell Warren and Jonathan Cousins will have the likes of Carol Kirkwood, Wincey Willis, and every other weather presenter worldwide persistently looking over their shoulders in view of their expert in depth analysis of approaching cloud formations, wind direction, lighting up time et al. If these chaps had been at the Meteorological Office in October 1987 we would have known all about that hurricane down south that the weather experts of the time told us not to worry about!

Sincere thanks to Clair, Holly’s mum, for all of the information gathering she did for the scorers, not to mention the odd tea, coffee, and chocolate bars thrown in. Additionally all our reminiscences of Salop which I know now, thanks to Clair, has become Shropshire.

Finally a word for my Scoring colleague Holly who I have sat alongside for the past 3 days. I must say that I have been totally impressed with her knowledge, ability, and interaction for one so young. I will not divulge her age, but if you get double 8 on a dartboard you are there.

It was the first time Holly has scored a three-day game, and I am sure she will be a very much respected scorer in years to come, possibly at a very high level. Watch out for her name in the future. In my working days my boss once said that he hoped that I would go far, unfortunately he qualified it by adding the further from away from him the better #laughingemoji

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