Leics reliance on Eckersley shown again
Leicestershire 270 for 7 (Eckersley 106) v Worcestershire
Ned Eckersley hit his third Championship century of the season as Leicestershire recovered from a shaky start to reach 270 for 7 at stumps on the first day against Worcestershire at Grace Road.
Leicestershire, rooted to the bottom of the table without a win, have relied heavily on Eckersley throughout a disappointing season, and would have been in a poor way without his 106 off 249 balls.
The next highest scorer was captain John Cobb, who contributed 44 to a fifth-wicket stand of 92 with Eckersley. Then a brisk unbeaten 22 from Ollie Freckingham in the final few overs, helped the home side a second batting point.
After winning the toss Leicestershire found it tough going against some tidy seam bowling from Alan Richardson, Joe Leach and Jack Shantry. Greg Smith was caught at slip off Richardson for 1 in the fifth over of the morning, while Niall O'Brien led a charmed life making 31 off 59 balls.
He played and missed outside off stump on several occasions, survived two big lbw shouts and edged one delivery from Leach between wicket-keeper Michael Johnson and first slip Moeen Ali, who both left the catch to each other. Leach gained his revenge when he finally had O'Brien caught at second slip by Daryl Mitchell.
Eckersley survived a sharp chance to gully when he had made 16 and was also dropped by Moeen Ali on 29. But when Shiv Thakor and Tom Wells fell lbw to Shaaiq Choudhry and Shantry respectively, Leicestershire were in trouble at 94 for 4.
The Eckersley- Cobb partnership turned things round, with 24-year-old Eckersley reaching his half century and 1,000 Championship runs for the season as well. He looks like being the only Leicestershire player to do so. O'Brien, with 595 runs, is the next highest scorer in the averages.
Moeen broke the stand when he had Cobb caught at mid-off for 44 off 93 balls. But Eckersley brought up his century with a back foot four followed by a quick single off Graeme Cessford. It came off 222 balls and contained 14 fours. But he was sixth out at 226 chopping on against Richardson with the new ball.
James Sykes chipped a catch to short midwicket three overs later but Ben Raine, unbeaten on 16, and Freckingham, took Leicestershire to a second batting point and were still together at the close.