Leicestershire fall short despite twin tons
Surrey 483 and forfeit drew with Leicestershire 123 for 0 dec and 338 for 8
Sometimes the margins between success and failure really are agonisingly small. While history may well remember the summer of 2010 as one of the most miserable in the history of Leicestershire CCC, it could all have been different.
Set a demanding target of 361 in a minimum of 76 overs on the last day of this game at Grace Road, Leicestershire fell just 23 runs short. Had they won, it would have been the fourth highest successful run chase in their Championship history and they would have jumped to third in the table.
As it is, however, the draw for which they were forced to settle ends any lingering promotion hopes and, realistically, any chance they had of focusing on cricket for the last month of the season. There will be no silver lining for Leicestershire.
In the end, Surrey almost stole the win. With Chris Tremlett suddenly transformed into a world-class fast bowler - which is not how he looked for most of the day - Leicestershire lost 5 for 42 in 11 overs of the final session and were left clinging on with eight wickets down.
Surrey didn't really deserve the win. Tremlett's last spell apart, their bowling was toothless and their fielding quite awful. For young men, the likes of Arun Harinath and Tom Lancefield ('Lance-can't-field' as one comedian in the press box puts it) are remarkably ponderous and unreliable.
There were times when some of Surrey's more senior players could barely conceal their frustration. Still, both sides deserve credit for showing the enterprise to set-up a run chase. While the declaration bowling in the morning was far from pretty, it did allow for a fascinating final couple of sessions.
Leicestershire were well on track at one stage, too. A stand of 183 in 36 overs for the fourth wicket between Jacques du Toit and Paul Nixon ensured the run-rate never climbed much above six and, with both men going well, Surrey looked bereft of ideas.
Both men scored their first championship centuries of the season. Du Toit, who pulled impressively and drove one straight six off Gareth Batty's off-spin, started cautiously (his first 50 contained just one boundary and occupied 96 balls) but accelerated smoothly, with his second 50 taking just 46 deliveries. 39-year-old Nixon was less orthodox. Several times he demonstrated his penchant for the reverse-sweep, but he also ran between the wickets superbly and drove nicely. His century contained nine boundaries and occupied 140 balls.
Intriguingly, both men are out of contract at the end of this season and far from certain to win new deals. These innings may not make much difference, either. Increasingly it is finance, not cricketing merit, that will govern such issues and, as many players may shortly discover, it will not pay to be out of contract at the end of the next couple of seasons.
The loss of du Toit, clipping to mid-wicket, precipitated a decline, however. Tremlett produced yorker after yorker to dry up the scoring and, when Nixon was deceived by Jade Dernbach's excellent slower ball and dragged it on to his stumps, the chase was over. It was a brave effort from Leicestershire, however. Particularly for a side dismissed as "dreadful" by their own chairman on the first morning of the match.
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Leicestershire's board held an informal meeting on Thursday night to discuss the implications of the players' letter demanding the resignation of the chairman, Neil Davidson.
The board subsequently released a statement which, more or less, said nothing. It read: "An informal meeting of Directors took place on Thursday 26th August to bring those Directors returning from holiday up to date with recent events at the club. A full Board meeting is scheduled for Friday 3rd September when the Chairman returns from holiday. A statement will be released after that meeting." Elsewhere, the petitioners calling for a Special General Meeting have written to the club's president, David Wilson, asking him to intervene in the matter.