Couldn’t decide yesterday whether to watch Nottinghamshire v Warwickshire at Trent Bridge or go to Grace Road. The eyes of the cricketing world were on Trent Bridge – Bell, Trott, Sidebottom and so on – but I chose Leicestershire.
The situation here was that Leicestershire had made a feeble showing in their first innings, Derby had scored 478 – 8 dec. in theirs: Leicester stood at 154-2. The questions seemed to be – could Matt Boyce reach his century? and – could Leicestershire bat the day out for a draw?
Well, the answer to the first question was no, and shortly before lunch, with Leicester at 224-7 – 77 still needed to make Derby bat again – the questions seemed to be whether I’d have time for any lunch before the match ended and whether it was worth trying to make it up to Nottingham to catch the end of the other game.
The only hope was that the pocket marvel James Taylor was still in, though I didn’t have much faith in no. 9 Jigur Naik delaying Derbyshire for too long. Naik is a Leicester-born man who’s been on the fringes of the side for a few years now, a spinner with a previous highest score of 16.
I got my pie and chips in and waited for the end to arrive.
The pair of them were still there at 5.00, having reached the highest eighth wicket stand in Leicestershire’s history – 195 (there was a huge cheer when they achieved this, as we’d all been looking it up in our Playfairs). Hardly a chance given all afternoon either. Taylor was eventually out in the nineties, I’d guess playing a hurried shot because he was worried that a draw would be agreed before he had the chance to reach his century, but Naik got his : he left the field to a standing ovation, the players all out on the balcony and the man on the Tannoy announcing a historic day for Leicestershire cricket.
Mind you, after this match, we’re now bottom of the entire Championship. Pity we couldn’t have got the runs in the first innings, and a pity too that Taylor (who’s 19) is having to assume the role of elder statesman.
Steffan Jones added greatly to the gaiety of the day. An old Varsity man and a wandering Welshman, currently on loan to Derby from Somerset, he looks a bit like a slimmed down Brian Blessed and broke into song at one point (proper singing too – he should think of doing it professionally). He also – having spotted that Naik’s strongest suit was cutting and hooking – supplied him with the diet of short-pitched bowling that enabled our man to play his historic innings.
Forget Ramprakash, by the way – Taylor’s the man. Though perhaps not quite yet.