Leicestershire need 124 runs to beat Worcestershire by 178 and 169 (Libby 67, Wright 4-44), respectively, with 110 (Pennington 4-36, Waite 3-24) and 114 for 7 (Pennington 3-25).

Leicestershire need 124 runs to beat Worcestershire by 178 and 169 (Libby 67, Wright 4-44) with 110 (Pennington 4-36, Waite 3-24) and 114 for 7 (Pennington 3-25), respectively.

Oakham’s term has concluded, and its different buildings are now rented out to summer schools. As a result of this venture, crocodiles of international students walk behind the bowler’s arm on occasion, not knowing they are delaying a game. Of course, people may be unaware that a game is being played. Perhaps they believe that the incessant swaying of men in white robes is England’s equivalent of the Japanese tea ritual; perhaps they are correct.

Patience, acceptance, and meditation have all played a role, and at least two of those virtues can be seen in the batting of Jake Libby, a guy who has done as much as anyone to make a Worcestershire triumph the most likely outcome at some point tomorrow morning.

Libby is one of those county cricketers who knows his game inside and out, plays to his strengths, and rarely lets his team down. His 67 off 114 balls is the highest innings in this match so far, and if it continues, the Nicaraguan national debt may be due. It was full of the controlled edges and stock-in-trade opener’s nudges that have helped Libby average nearly fifty in 41 first-class outings for Worcestershire since joining from Nottinghamshire. More importantly, it enabled his team to build on a 68-run first-inning lead and challenge Leicestershire to score 238 to win at Doncaster Close.

That was difficult enough before Josh Tongue arrived from Old Trafford to take Adam Finch’s place for the final three days of this contest. Tongue, who came in from the Allotments End after Leicestershire had already lost Louis Kimber and Rishi Patel to the new ball, had little influence in his first spell. After tea, though, he removed Peter Handscomb’s off stump and caught Wiaan Mulder behind for a second-ball duck.

Leicestershire were 53 for 5 after those dismissals, and their tumblils were rattling. Dillon Pennington got both Lewis Hill and Tom Scriven caught behind in the same over later in the evening session, and the tricoteuses’ needles clacked in the Close. Only the umpires’ decision to take the players off due to poor lighting saved Leicestershire from Madame Guillotine. But neither of the officials had any problems to deal with today, and they most likely enjoyed the early closing as well.

Perhaps we all did. Days with 18 and 19 wickets rarely lack incident, and it was likely difficult for even the most observant viewer to isolate individual innings. Worcestershire, for example, were 81 for 3 at lunch, which they undoubtedly thought was a decent return on a ground that was only drying out properly on the second day. With the new ball, Chris Wright had taken the wickets of Gareth Roderick and Azhar Ali, and Matt Salisbury had removed Jack Haynes, strangled down the leg side, a fate that the departing batsman appeared to want to inflict on Neil Bainton when he saw the umpire’s finger raised.

Before another clatter of wickets, Libby and Adam Hose contributed another 25 runs.

In the afternoon session, Libby and Adam Hose added another 25 runs before another clatter of wickets. Some came as a result of superb bowling, such as when Libby was caught behind for 67 off a ball that nipped away from Mulder. Others were the result of sloppy batting: Joe Leach was run out attempting two runs that only Frankel could have scored, and Josh Baker sliced Matt Salisbury to Rishi Patel at deep point.

Worcestershire fans were happy once again that their last-wicket partnership, this time Pennington and Tongue, could contribute 24 runs for the last wicket, as far too many cricketers had chosen shots based on what they believed the surface would do rather than its actual performance.

Indeed, far too much criticism has been leveled at this Oakham pitch and, indirectly, at the chief groundsman, Richard Dexter. True, the surface was challenging on the first day, owing to the fact that it had been covered for the majority of the preceding five days to protect it from rain. However, once the light got to work on it this morning, it began to play a bit more readily, and a few dismissals were triggered by suspicion as much as actuality.

That was what made Libby’s innings so good, even though his strokes didn’t bring much consolation to Benno and Stench. On the first day of this game, two of Leicestershire’s most ardent supporters, especially on T20 nights at Grace Road, erected a base camp ideally adjacent to the Social Science building.

From that vantage point, they witnessed Worcestershire subside slowly, which thrilled them, and then Leicestershire crumple like disappointed divas on an awards show, which disappointed them. Today’s cricket followed a similar trend, so perhaps it was fortuitous that their banner was gone when the wickets plummeted, batsmen moaned, and unknowing crocodiles approached the sightscreen.

Rickelton was fast on his feet, lofting Coles’ left-arm spin over long-off for six before edging Ari Karvelas’ seam to second slip as he pressed down on a full ball.

Later, Lyth hit his century off 157 balls, but he was the first of two wickets in as many overs for offspinner Jack Carson, who helped Sussex finish the day well. Yorkshire were 258 for four in the 63rd over as Lyth chipped to midwicket and George Hill edged to slip without scoring.

While Sussex managed to minimize the damage late in the game, Malan achieved his fifty off 82 balls.


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