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June 28, 2010
Leicestershire 163 for 3 v Worcestershire 175
Leicestershire made a powerful return to County Championship action at New Road as, after dismissing Worcestershire for 175, they closed only 12 behind following half-centuries by Will Jefferson and Jacques du Toit.
The only bright spot for the home side was a partnership of 71 by Ben Cox and lower-order left-hander Gareth Andrew after they had buckled to 77 for 6 against impressive swing and seam bowling.
Six days after completing his A-levels at Bromsgrove School, Cox marked his second Championship appearance by making 42, with the resourceful Andrew making an unbeaten 53 from 96 balls.
When Leicestershire replied with 163 for 3 in 36 overs, wicketkeeper Cox held two catches but Worcestershire's seamers could not prevent Jefferson (64) and Du Toit (57) putting on 107 for the second wicket.
In the morning session, everything that captain Mathew Hoggard did turned to profit for Leicestershire. The former England bowler rattled Daryl Mitchell's off stump with his fifth delivery and his first bowling changes brought instant success.
Phil Jaques pulled Nadeem Malik's third delivery to mid-on and Moeen Ali, after making some headway with six fours, was leg-before for 33 in James Benning's second over. For Malik it was a rewarding return to Championship cricket after a break of 21 months since his last game in September 2008.
After being troubled by a back problem last season, he resumed against one of his former sides with a testing spell in which he also bowled Alexei Kervezee for figures of 2 for 50 from 12 overs.
Teenage prospect Nathan Buck went empty-handed with the new ball but was quickly on the button when he came back to have Ben Smith caught behind for 14. A second wicket followed after lunch when James Cameron (15) edged to slip.
This was the cue for 18-year-old Cox to reinforce a favourable first impression from last September, when he made 61 on his debut against Somerset at Taunton. Now signed up on a four-year contract, he has returned as the county's number one keeper, taking over after a three-month loan stint by Middlesex's Ben Scott.
Cox batted with good judgment in picking off eight boundaries before Leicestershire's spinners, Jigar Naik and Claude Henderson, shared the last four wickets.
With Cox caught behind from Naik's fourth delivery, Andrew made the best of limited support from the tail, reaching his fifth Championship half-century with seven fours and a six.
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