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Paul Edwards at Grace Road
July 30, 2012
Leicestershire 320 (Boyce 107) and 157 for 7 drew with Yorkshire 486 (Lyth 248*, Bairstow 118)
For the first three days of this match Yorkshire's cricketers laid siege to Grace Road; on the fourth they hoped Leicestershire would finally capitulate and surrender the 16 points for a win that would have left Andrew Gale's team a single point behind second division leaders Derbyshire having played one game more.
Leicestershire did not yield though. While Grace Road may be more an embattled town than a mighty fortress these days, its citizens are a proud lot, and a sixth-wicket partnership of 67 in 24 overs between Ned Eckersley and Wayne White in mid-afternoon played an important role in securing the draw and denying Gale's men the victory they craved.
The weather was vital, too; indeed, it probably saved Leicestershire and provided Yorkshire with the most frustrating day of their season. One downpour delayed the start of play until 12.15pm; another prevented the restart after lunch for 80 minutes; and a final shower after tea caused play to be delayed until 5.45pm when 6.1 overs were left in the game and the visitors needed four wickets.
They could not manage it. Although Eckersley was snaffled by Root at short leg off Asad Rafiq for a valiant 26, Paul Dixey and Claude Henderson defied the Yorkshire bowlers and the ring of predatory fielders to bat out the remaining 17 balls of the game. In all, a total of 60 overs were lost in the day. If Yorkshire do not win promotion, players and supporters may look back on events at Grace Road as being crucial to their eventual fate.
The disappointment of the visitors was exacerbated by the tantalising capture of three vital wickets in the ten overs that were possible in the morning session. Two of these were the work of Harmison, who continued to mix a most erratic line and a tendency to overstep the crease with the capacity to produce a devastating delivery made all the more lethal by the wayward stuff that surrounded it. His first over contained a long-hop, a couple of very wide balls and, fatally for Ramnaresh Sarwan, a superb yorker which the Guyanese seemed barely to see. For the second time in the match Leicestershire's best batsman had been castled by one of Yorkshire's least impressive; Sarwan trooped off morosely, perhaps meditating upon the iniquities visited on the righteous by the ungodly.
Worse was to come for Leicestershire. Four overs later, first innings centurion Matt Boyce clipped a Harmison half-volley straight to short leg where the ball hit Joe Root, who had the presence of mind and quickness of reflex to catch the rebound. Shiv Thakor kept out one delivery before he was lbw to his second, a full and straight affair from Steve Patterson which trapped the slow-moving batsman on the crease. And if second slip Adam Lyth had then held on to an edged chance offered by White off Steven Patterson, Leicestershire would have been 90 for 6 and tottering.
Instead, Yorkshire had to wait until 4.35pm to claim White's wicket when Bairstow held on to an edge off Rafiq. One ball later, as if on order from Leicestershire captain Matthew Hoggard, the rain returned. The siege engines had been hampered by the weather. Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie and his charges now take their trebuchets and mangonels to Northampton for a championship match on Wednesday.
Yorkshire's irritation at Monday's outcome was perhaps assuaged a little by the fact that Hampshire hung on for a draw against Kent, so the 11 points Gale's team gained at Grace Road moves them up to second place in Division Two. Leicestershire's eight points moves them above Glamorgan at the foot of the table.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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