Lilley takes four as Final enters last day

SECOND XI CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL | Day 3: Hampshire CCC v Leicestershire CCC

SCORE | Hampshire CCC 343 & 278 v Leicestershire CCC 187 and none for none

SCORECARD | Available HERE

REPORT | By Pete Johnson

It was a glorious early September morning in the Southampton area for day three of the SEC Final between Hampshire CCC and Leicestershire CCC at The Ageas Bowl. However, in keeping with events so far, sometime during the day there will no doubt be a request from the umpires for the floodlights to be switched on again.

It was a tough day at the office for Leicestershire CCC, but the lads stuck at it manfully, in an ultimately successful effort to take ten Hampshire CCC wickets. Occupation of the crease, for as long as possible, proved to be the prime objective of the south coast county.

Hampshire CCC were dismissed for 278 from 109 overs. Arron Lilley bowled beautifully, picking up four for 58 (32), and he was admirably supported by Callum Parkinson (three for 66 from 25).

When Hampshire CCC were eventually dismissed there was just one over remaining in the day for Leicestershire to negotiate, which they safely did. Going into the fourth and final day, Leicestershire require 435 to win from a minimum of 96 overs, an asking rate of 4.48 an over.

Hampshire CCC resumed from their overnight 52 without loss, leading by 208 runs. Felix Organ 26*, Ollie Soames 25*. After two deliveries of the morning the umpires changed the ball, for the second time in the innings.

Leicestershire CCC struck in the third over of the morning when Soames (28, 53b) was bowled by Gavin Griffiths, the off stump cartwheeling out of the ground. A welcoming sight for any bowler. Organ (39, 85b) was next to go, caught at square-leg by Alex Evans off Ben Mike. Organ grinding out a further 13 runs this morning.

After a further two overs the scorers faced a problem observing the play. Every four weeks all the windows are cleaned in the Shane Warne Stand where we were located. After 10.1 overs of the morning, a window cleaner armed with brush, hose pipe, and accompanying array of window cleansing equipment began to clean the outside of the huge window straight in front of me.

I was ducking around, standing up, sitting down, but did not miss a ball. After he had finished a pair of windscreen wipers would have been handy to see the play more clearly. The view through the window returned to normality after some 30 minutes.

The over following the window cleaning experience yielded another wicket for Leicestershire, Tom Alsop (2, 19b) was pinned in front by Lilley from the second ball of his spell. Fletcha Middleton, who made a splendid undefeated century in the first innings, joined Harry Came. Came’s father had joined us in the Scorers Suite for half an hour or so.

I asked him if his son, Harry, was ever linked to the Spurs and England footballer Harry Kane, as their names sound very similar, but are of course spelt differently. Mr Came Snr related a couple of instances of such.

Middleton (13, 41b) went caught and bowled by Lilley, who took an ‘up and under’ in the mid-on area. Hampshire CCC went into lunch at 112-4 (46) with Came (17no) and James Fuller (2no). After the break, Came and Fuller posted a 50 partnership from 69 balls, when the score reached 156 for four (54.2).

Fuller went some nine overs later sublimely caught by Aadil Ali at first slip off Parkinson. In the next over Came (42, 128b) was trapped lbw by seamer Andy Jones. Scott Currie (8, 42b) occupied the crease for 48 minutes before being caught by Jones at mid wicket off Lilley.

Hampshire CCC went into tea on 198-7 (80). Keith Barker (9*), George Metzger (3*). Upon returning to my lair after the interval I made an executive decision and changed my chair. The one I had been sitting in squeaked every time I moved, so I employed another model, which was silence personified.

After tea, Barker was in drop anchor mode, blocking the majority of deliveries he faced, and not taking a run until before the fourth ball of the over, which was always a single, so that he could retain the strike.

Metzger (9, 12b), playing no stroke, was bowled by Parkinson. Leicestershire CCC did not take the new ball when it was available, but waited until they had bowled a further 10.1 overs with the old one.

Parkinson took the new cherry, while Griffiths and Alex Evans had brief spells with the new ball, three overs each, before Lilley returned to the attack. Ryan Stevenson (14, 34b) went lbw from the first ball of the second over of Lilley’s returning spell.

Last man Ajit Dale joined Barker, and as in the first innings seemed unconcerned by being on 0no for a while. Barker went to his 50 (151b, 5x4), but had the opportunity to accumulate many more runs during his innings. He selflessly put his team’s occupation of the crease as the main point of focus.

The Hampshire CCC innings came to an end when Barker (60, 165b) was bowled by Parkinson. Dale (2no, 17b). Hampshire CCC all out 278 (109), leaving Leicestershire CCC requiring 435 to win from a minimum of 96 overs.

The wicket-takers for Leicestershire CCC were: Lilley 4-58 (32), Parkinson 3-66 (25), Jones 1-22 (9), Griffiths 1-25 (12), Mike 1-40 (14). Unlike in the first innings, no wickets for Alex Evans 0-45 (15), but as always 100% effort and commitment to the cause.

There was one over left in the day for Leicestershire CCC to bat. Alex Evans and Ateeq Javid, opened the innings. Alex Evans, in the role of nightwatchman, facing, with the responsibility to see out the solitary over.

Alex Evans accomplished his task, Geoffrey Boycott would have been purring in delight as ‘Evans the bat’ nonchalantly and dismissively negotiated the six deliveries propelled in his direction by Fuller. Leicestershire CCC closed at 0-0 (1).

The floodlights were not required today as the sun shone brightly in the evening session. This was reinforced by a number of people sitting on their balconies, watching the cricket, from the nearby Hilton Hotel. The scoring fraternity breathed a massive sigh of relieve as their communication skills related to floodlight pylons was not required today by the gentlemen in white coats.

A postscript from day two at downtown Southampton. A trip to see a National League South game at Havant & Waterlooville FC last night proved a bridge too far. It was a 6.21pm finish at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday, I could have got to the ground in time for the 7.45pm kick off, but the return journey, via public transport caused problems. The cost of a 20-mile taxi fare back to the team hotel, reinforced my decision to remain in the immediate surroundings of the Ageas Bowl.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game

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