On This Day - 1996 - Record score and Partnership
17th May 1996: Record score and partnership by Leicestershire at Grace Road
The championship winning season of 1996 always had a good vibe about it. 2nd in 1994, the club dropped back to 7th in 1995, but Phil Simmons was back, and anything probably could or would happen. A win over Derbyshire in the first match was a great start, and after conceding nearly 500 to Lancashire at Old Trafford, a gritty century by Paul Nixon ensured the draw.
Worcestershire were the visitors to Grace Road for the first home championship match of the season. Darren Maddy and Phil Simmons both scored half centuries, and at 200 for 4, a match winning score seemed likely - the outcome exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations. Maddy and Simmons dismissals brought together skipper James Whitaker and Aftab Habib. Their partnership for the 5th wicket was worth 320 runs. When they reached 234 they overtook the existing record of 233 by Nigel Briers and Roger Tolchard, scored against Somerset in 1979.
James Whitaker was first to go for 168 (222 balls, 292 minutes, 25 fours and 1 six). There was then a ‘collapse’ with Paul Nixon who had sat with his pads on as next man in for 4 ½ hours, departing for a duck, but Gordon Parsons, coming in with the score at 537 for 7, stopped the rot and saw Habib through to his double century. He was eventually run out for 215 (322 balls, 373 minutes, 32 fours and 2 sixes), and the innings was closed shortly afterwards at 638.
This was the highest Leicestershire score at Grace Road (there had been another plus 600 score at the beginning of the century), and this record remains.
Curiously, it was not the highest score of the season, as it was topped by the 681 scored at Bradford (Whitaker scoring the double hundred on that occasion), and the wicket partnership lasted just two years, Phil Simmons and Ben Smith putting on 322 against Notts.
(Picture is of the team on the pavilion balcony after winning the championship. L-R; Darren Maddy, Aftab Habib, Vince Wells, Adrian Pierson, Gordon Parsons)
Richard Holdridge - Club Historian