Fell makes stylish return after cancer battle

Worcestershire 193 for 7 (Fell 61, Mitchell 52) trail Leicestershire 407 (Dexter 109, Eckersley 92, Robson 50, Barnard 4-62, D'Oliveira 4-80) by 214 runs

Tom Fell made a memorable comeback for Worcestershire with a stylish half-century against Leicestershire at New Road on his return to the County Championship after an absence of nearly 10 months.

In his first innings since recovering from two forms of cancer, he made 61 from 114 balls until Worcestershire wobbled to 193 for 7, still 65 short of avoiding the follow-on after Leicestershire's confident progress to 407.

The 22-year-old Fell was warmly greeted on his home ground, applause ringing out on the long walk to the middle, and from the moment he took guard, he looked comfortable, totally focussed and surprisingly sure of touch.

From a first boundary, pinged through midwicket, he picked up from where he left off with a career-best 171 in the final match of last season against Middlesex. There was none of the uncertainty that could have been anticipated after the long months of treatment.

Called to the wicket when Brett D'Oliveira mistimed a drive to mid-on in the 12th over, Fell was off the mark from the seventh ball he faced, and apart from one false stroke, most of his 11 boundaries came out of the middle of the bat.

All was going so smoothly until a mix-up with Mitchell, which ended a partnership of 97, was quickly followed by another mishap in successive overs from Ben Raine.

Mitchell failed to beat Paul Horton's return when Fell set off for a single after playing the ball to point and Fell himself was driving hard when caught behind. This opened the door to Leicestershire with further wickets for Charlie Shreck and Clint McKay as well as a double bonus in the last two overs.

Ben Cox was caught at slip from Mark Cosgrove's second ball and Neil Dexter secured the important scalp by bowling Clarke for 34, the sixth wicket to fall in the final session.

Earlier, Ned Eckersley's innings revived a habit of making big runs against Worcestershire. In 2013, he made three hundreds off their bowling and in all he now has 515 runs from eight Championship innings at an average of 73.57.

Recalled to the side at the end of May, his form had been unproductive, with two single-figure dismissals out of three in four-day games, but a visit to Worcester quickly put him back in the groove.

The game was finely balanced, with Leicestershire on 299 for 7, when Eckersley seized the initiative as the last three wickets added 107 on the second morning.

Unbeaten with 40 at the start of play, he completed his first half-century of the summer before his overnight partner, Raine, gave a return catch to D'Oliveira.

With Raine gone after making 25 in a stand of 55, Worcestershire may have expected a speedy wrap-up, but they were to be disappointed as former New Road player Richard Jones smacked 33 out of 69. Ed Barnard completed a career-best return of 4 for 62 when bowling Jones and D'Oliveira made his figures 4 for 80 with the lbw dismissal of Shreck.

After playing so well and hitting 14 fours, Eckersley was stranded when on the brink of another century against his favourite opponents.