Cricket and the drought – Andrew Umeed’s scorching stroll

Leicestershire 269 (Kimber 102, Swindells 70, Ogborne 3-49, Aldridge 3-40) beat Somerset 224 (Renshaw 55, Hendricks 3-36, Mulder 3-51) by 45 runs

A maiden List A century from batting prospect Louis Kimber and a disciplined bowling performance saw Leicestershire make it three wins in four games in the Royal London One Day Cup at the expense of a Somerset side which has now lost all four games in the competition.

But the most striking image of all in a match that brought further dismay for Somerset – already part of a south-west region frozen out of The Hundred – was that of their opening batter Andrew Umeed walking across a parched Leicester outfield as England’s worst drought for a generation or more continued.

Kimber, who last month scored his maiden first-class century, hit four sixes in going to three figures off just 87 deliveries after the Foxes had struggled to 18-3 at the end of the first powerplay. The 25-year-old received good support from Harry Swindells (70) as Leicestershire recovered to post a competitive total on a pitch of variable pace.

South Africa internationals Beuran Hendricks and Wiaan Mulder then picked up three wickets apiece as Somerset’s chase subsided in the face of testingly accurate seam bowling.

Both counties came into the match with plenty of motivation. Leicestershire, with only four players lost to the Hundred, see this competition as a genuine chance of silverware in an otherwise disappointing season, but having won well at Surrey and Middlesex in their first two games, were looking to regain that early momentum after going down to a heavy defeat against Sussex at Hove last Sunday.

Somerset, in contrast, had lost all three of their opening fixtures (against Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Durham) and knew they could not afford another defeat if they were to retain any real hope of qualifying for the knock-out stages.

A green tinge to the pitch – a far cry from the outfield which was grey around the gills – suggested it would be a good toss to win, an impression apparently confirmed by the events of the first ten overs. Kasey Aldridge and Jack Brooks both used the conditions well, finding swing and a little movement off the pitch with the new balls. Nick Welch had already been dropped, by Ben Green at mid-off off Brooks, when Aldridge picked up his first wicket, Rishi Patel driving at an out-swinger and edging a simple catch to solitary slip Matt Renshaw.

Welch followed in almost exactly the same manner, though his edge was thinner, into the gloves of wicketkeeper Steve Davies, and captain Lewis Hill lasted only four deliveries before he too drove at an Aldridge outswinger to give Renshaw another catch.

Kimber and the in-form Wiaan Mulder set about rebuilding the innings, and went some way towards doing so, adding 49 for the fourth wicket before disobeying one of batting’s fundamental rules and attempting to run on a misfield. Mulder it was who paid the price, trying to complete a second after Aldridge had juggled the ball at deep square leg, but the fielder grabbed the ball cleanly at the second attempt and arrowed in a throw which Mulder failed to beat.

Kimber was unaffected. Having registered his first-class century at Hove against Sussex last month, the Lincoln-born player gave another demonstration of his considerable potential, striking the ball cleanly and powerfully in hitting four sixes and eight fours in going to his hundred. He was dropped on 75 by George Bartlett, a difficult chance in the covers off Aldridge, but having reached three figures, almost immediately holed out, Renshaw taking his third catch, this time at long-on off youngster Alfie Ogborne.

Ogborne, a young left-arm seamer playing just his second game for the county, continued to impress and was duly rewarded when he finished his spell with consecutive wickets, bowling Arron Lilley and pinning Tom Scriven leg before. But Swindells, who has been struggling with the bat this season, found form at just the right time for the Foxes with a battling half-century which, in company with the tail, saw the home side reach 269 – a total they would probably have taken after those first ten overs.
Somerset’s hopes of a solid start to their reply were dashed almost immediately when Davies was bowled off the inside edge by Beuran Handricks. Lewis Goldsworthy also played on, in his case off Chris Wright, and when Andy Umeed pulled a Mulder delivery gently to Scriven at midwicket, the visitors were in trouble at 46-3.

Renshaw led a recovery of sorts, keeping Somerset in the hunt – at least in comparative terms – as he and Bartlett took the score on to 118 before Renshaw, having reached his half-century and begun to hit the ball with authority, was bowled by a slower delivery from Mulder. James Rew and Bartlett were both bowled off inside edges swinging at Hendricks, and though the tail did its best, with Brooks hitting a lusty 25, they never looked capable of getting close.

Still, at least the beer and cider festival is only one week away…

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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