April 17, 2001

Francis and Block set the standard

A brave innings of 107 from John Francis for Loughborough UCCE against Leicestershire has been the highlight of the second day of the English first-class season.

Batting for nearly five hours, Francis - a left-hander who has represented Hampshire second XI - ensured that Loughborough reached a respectable total, and struck 14 fours and a six in his innings. It also enabled the students' captain, Mark Powell, to show a welcome positive attitude in declaring their innings and having another bowl at Leicestershire. Their enterprise was rewarded with two early wickets including Marsh, who completed a miserable debut as the new overseas player.

Another notable performance has come at Fenner's where Stuart Block carried his bat for the students against Kent. Block's 56 not out in a total of 129 all out at least gave his side something to cheer, though Kent remain well on-top.

Simon Birtwisle has been the star for Bradford/Leeds UCCE, hitting a defiant 64 as his side were dismissed for 180 in reply to Derbyshire's 340. Chris Elstub followed up with an aggressive 49 before he snatched a couple of quick wickets for the youngsters when Derbyshire batted again. The first-class county will be happy with the form of their seam attack however, with Dean, Munton and Aldred performing particularly well.

It was slow going in The Parks as Oxford UCCE continued their reply to Middlesex's 269. Stubborn efforts from all their batsmen ensured a respectable total, though they will be disappointed that they could not capitalise on their good starts.

Elsewhere Durham UCCE have endured another chastening day. Having capitulated to Durham for just 67 yesterday, they today saw three Durham players score centuries (Lewis, Daley and Collingwood) as they took their score to 485-4.