Simmons century silences pitch concerns
Leicestershire 182 and 51 for 1 (Boyce 19*, Cobb 17*) trail West Indians 320 for 6 dec (Simmons 102 ret ht, Nash 78 ret ht, Wyatt 3-42) by 87 runs
Lendl Simmons and Brendan Nash put any concerns about the Grace Road pitch out of their minds as they enjoyed valuable time in the middle on the second day against Leicestershire. Simmons hit the first hundred of the tour, while Nash made a composed 78, and to cap a promising day for the tourists Andrew Richardson struck early as Leicestershire batted again.
John Dyson hit out at the surface after 14 wickets fell on the opening day, but progress was much more serene with Simmons and Nash in occupation. Both batsmen will have important roles to play in the Test series next month so the acclimatisation time will serve them well.
Simmons made his Test debut against England in Trinidad and was promoted to open in the second innings after Chris Gayle was injured. However, his immediate future appears to be in the middle order where he will probably slot in at No. 4 between the trump players Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
There is a strong Simmons connection with Grace Road after Phil Simmons, his uncle, spent five years at Leicestershire as an overseas player and played a key role in the 1996 and 1998 Championship titles. Lendl reached his century off 192 balls, to add to the one he scored on the same ground for West Indies A three years ago, before retiring three deliveries later with cramp, but that allowed others the chance to have a hit.
"It was a pretty flat batting track and I enjoyed it," Simmons said. "I know my uncle played here a few years ago and I also played here for the A team a few years ago and I enjoyed today - it was a good feeling. I haven't had a chance to talk to him just yet because he's been with the Ireland team in South Africa but hopefully when he gets back I'll have a chat to him."
Simmons and Nash had batted throughout the morning session and the closest the home side came to a wicket was a run-out chance when Nash was on 27. Simmons' cover-driving was a stand-out feature of his game as Leicestershire's young attack struggled to make the same impact they did on the first evening.
Nash, who proved a tough obstacle for England to shift during the recent series in West Indies, had collected 78 when he retired to give Darren Sammy the opportunity of an innings, but Sammy didn't last long before providing Alex Wyatt a third wicket.
However, stand-in captain Denesh Ramdin and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn extended the West Indian lead with a stand of 54, which was ended when Ramdin gave Boeta Dippenaar a rare first-class wicket. That was also the signal for Ramdin to declare one ball short of the 100 overs permitted in these three-day games.
Richardson then removed Tom New early and although Matthew Boyce and Josh Cobb survived the remaining overs Leicestershire still trail by 87 runs and will have to fight hard to save the match.