Craddock stakes claim for full deal
Leicestershire 245 for 7 v Essex 322
A second successive century from their captain, James Foster, and a four-wicket haul for trialist Tom Craddock gave Essex a vital edge in their County Championship Division Two game against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
Foster finished unbeaten on 117 to steer Essex to a total of 322 before 21-year-old leg-spinner Craddock picked up four wickets in an impressive spell as Leicestershire slipped from 109 without loss to 245 for 7 at the close, still 77 runs behind.
Craddock, on a two-month trial with Essex, dismissed Matthew Boyce, James Taylor, Andrew McDonald and Wayne White to boost his hopes of clinching a permanent contract. He had also played his part with the bat during the morning session, sharing a valuable stand of 75 in 23 overs with Foster.
Foster dominated the partnership as Leicestershire's policy of allowing him easy runs in a bid to get him off strike backfired. Foster skilfully farmed the bowling, taking few risks, although he clubbed Jigar Naik for a straight six and also reverse-swept the same bowler to the boundary.
Such was Foster's dominance that Craddock was left to face just a couple of balls an over as his captain moved smoothly into the 90s before reaching his century with two runs off White. Foster's hundred came off 195 balls and contained nine other boundaries in addition to that six. It followed the 103 he scored in the previous Championship game against Northamptonshire.
The ninth-wicket stand was finally broken when Craddock was caught at slip off Nadeem Malik for 11 and the same bowler then removed debutant Tymal Mills in the same fashion with his next delivery.
The home side faced four overs before lunch, during which Will Jefferson stroked four effortless boundaries. He continued in the same vein in the afternoon, reaching a half-century off 58 balls with 10 fours.
With Boyce also looking confident, the opening pair put on 109 in 25 overs before the game suddenly swung towards Essex. Boyce was caught at point cutting at a wide delivery from Craddock, which began a productive, unbroken, 21-over spell from the youngster.
Jefferson fell victim to David Masters when he edged to slip, but it was Craddock who picked up the big wickets of Taylor, caught at short leg, and McDonald, who was trapped lbw. When Greg Smith was then bowled by Maurice Chambers, Leicestershire had slumped to 176 for five and looked in real trouble.
But Wayne White and Tom New dug in with a stand of 68 in 19 overs before Craddock returned to dismiss White lbw just before the close. Masters then struck with the late wicket of Naik to put Essex in a good position going into the third day.
Craddock finished the day with four for 54 off 23 overs - his second four-wicket haul in his two Championship games for Essex so far.