Day 14 took us to Grace Road, Leicester, unofficially completing the set of 18 grounds with just Lord’s to go, which remains in any case our second home. Leicestershire Foxes were playing Durham in a RLODC match with only the visiting side really having anything to play for. Consequently, the Foxes fielded a weaker team including youngsters such as Liam Hurt, who was on his first team debut. Durham, on the other hand, fielded a strong side, eager to qualify for the quarter-finals and trying to retain their trophy.
Durham batted first and scored freely, aided by some sub-par fielding from Leicestershire. Stonemam and Borthwick, after the early loss of Mustard, put on a big partnership of 146, yet both batsman fell short of a century, Stoneman agonisingly close on 98 while Borthwick was unluckily run out backing up on 87. At 199-2 Durham were still well placed with plenty of batsmen still to come. Despite a slight lull, Durham accelerated to a mammoth score of 349-7 aided by cameos from Clark, Pringle, Hastings and MacLeod.
Leicestershire began their reply poorly, losing three quick wickets in the first 10 overs with just 50 on the board; the crucial wicket of Angus Robson was lost. Usman Arshad had to leave the field injured due to an injury mid-over and the veteran of 146 List A games, Gordon Muchall came on to bowl. With just his fourth ball he picked up his second wicket in this form, celebrating enthusiastically, arms outstretched like an aeroplane as he rushed across to the wicket-keeper delighted with his scalp.
The Foxes avoided embarrassment solely because of a brilliant 86 from Lewis Hill and an attacking 50 from Niall O’Brien. They may never have given Leicestershire a hope of winning the game, but they did at least save them from a massive defeat. Durham wrapped up the end of the innings quickly thanks to a five-fer from Scott Borthwick who added his best bowling figures to his High Score. Despite the loss, the Foxes’ fans were upbeat, constantly singing and playing their musical instruments almost reminiscent of a Caribbean test match. Even the Foxes mascot, a fox, seemed to enjoy his day trekking round the ground, although a dog got a bit excited, confusing the mascot for a real fox.
All in all Grace Road is a lovely ground, its popularity weakened due to Leicestershire’s poor form. It was a great place to unofficially complete the set, before moving on to Lord’s to finish the set of 18 within three weeks.
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