All’s Well That Ends Well-ish (Leicestershire v Northants)

Leicestershire v Northants, County Championship, Grace Road, Day 4, 12th May 2012

There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face …

The classic shot  of two batsmen leaving the pitch at the end of a game, being applauded off by the opposition and (though you can’t see this) getting a standing ovation from the crowd.  But what was the result? What were the batsmen feeling? Hoggard isn’t known for wild displays of emotion, so he probably looked like this when he’d just won the Ashes.  Wayne White could be relieved, in despair or just mussing his hair up a bit in case anyone wants to take his photograph. Mixed emotions, I’d say.

A Leicestershire member could have run pretty much the full gamut of available emotions in the course of what was – in its way – a  Readers’ Digest-style condensed classic of a game.  In order …

  • Pathetic gratitude that we were going to see a full day’s play and that the captains had decided to make a match of it.  Northants had scored 352-7 in their first innings, Leicester had foregone the chance of bonus points by declaring on 38-2 and Northants had done likewise on 26-0.  341 to win.
  • Doubt as to whether giving up the bonus points was such a good idea and whether we were going to be there past about 3.00 as Smith and Kabeer Ali (who’s popped up again like a supply teacher to cover for sickness) went for 6 and 7 respectively.
  • Hope as Boyce (with his statutory solid 30-odd) and the man I see Michael Holding thinks should be captaining the Windies (Ronnie Sarwan) built a solid platform …
  • Elation as Josh Cobb joined Sarwan and played precisely the right innings, combining the power of his one-day batting with some judicious shot selection and resisting the temptation to hoick it over an imaginary ring of fielders down the throat of a real one.  One compensatory aspect of Taylor’s departure has been that it allows the slightly older Cobb to emerge from Taylor’s (surprisingly large) shadow and feel sure of having an extended run in the four-day team, though the elation is tempered by the thought that, if he ever does achieve his full potential, the richer counties will redouble their efforts to lure him away.  Unfortunately on 167-3 Cobb’s shot selection failed him and he was bowled by the pesky Daggett (ITMA) without offering a stroke.
  • Wavering as Ned Eckersley offered Sarwan useful support … victory was seeming less likely, but defeat avoidable too …
  • That familiar sinking feeling … Eckersley trapped lbw by Hall and his odd action for 35, Sarwan out unnecessarily sweeping Middlebrook six short of his century …
  • Resignation as Henderson (who’s now entering his forties) ended up flat on his face in the dirt going for a fanciful run, and Joseph and Buck both fell to the niggly Daggett, having added one run between them.  Last man Hoggard joined Wayne White on 268-9 with 9.2 overs remaining. 
  • Relief turning to delight as the pair of them mounted a classic rearguard action (and who doesn’t love one of those?).  Every ball in the last few overs, with every Northants fieldsman crowded around the bat, received a decreasingly ironic ovation, and when they left the pitch … well, that’s where we came in. 

At the end of the day, though, Leicestershire came away with five points, Northants seven.  And the bottom line is Leicestershire are second to bottom in Division 2, Northants one place above.  A victory for either side would have been enough to take them clear of the pack and join the frontunners Derbyshire and Yorkshire, though I’d like to think that at the end of the day they had still time for a couple of reviving beers before they set off for Gloucestershire.*

The flowerbeds in front of the pavilion, by the way, are looking splendid, after all this weather we’ve been having …

*Unless they were driving there, of course.  In that case, I hope they stuck to the protein shakes.

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