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Matt Boyce ton holds up Yorkshire
Matt Boyce’s second century against Yorkshire this season underpinned a dogged Leicestershire recovery from 98-4 at lunch to 318-9 at close of the opening day of the LV= County Championship clash at Grace Road.
The left-hander, 26, followed up his performance in the second innings at Scarborough in May with 106 not out off 224 balls yesterday as the White Rose failed to capitalise on their impressive start having been invited to bowl in good batting conditions.
The pitch being so flat means Yorkshire will be confident of getting themselves into a match-winning position during the remaining three days of the division two clash, but they could have been well on their way already.
Steve Patterson was the pick of Yorkshire’s bowlers as, having taken both new balls, he returned miserly figures of 3-54 from 24 overs.
Off-spinner Azeem Rafiq also bowled well for large parts of his 23 overs, returning figures of 1-64, while medium pacer Anthony McGrath bowled a probing first spell before lunch without success.
He later struck in the day’s penultimate over when Nathan Buck was caught at first slip by Gary Ballance.
Despite picking up two wickets, including star man Ramnaresh Sarwan, Steve Harmison cut a sad figure and was woefully wayward, conceding 19 runs with either wides or no balls.
Sarwan will have viewed himself mightily unfortunate to have been bowled by a perfect yorker from the on-loan Durham man, who later had Paul Dixey caught at square-leg as he chased a ball down leg-side.
The former West Indies captain was one of Harmison’s victims when he took 7-12 in a Test match at Jamaica in 2004, the landmark performance of the 33-year-old’s career.
But yesterday’s display was a far cry from seeing him roaring in under the Caribbean sunshine in his heyday.
Although he did improve through the course of his four spells, balls regularly veered to the off-side and down leg, prompting ironic cheers from the crowd. He finished with 2-69 from 16 overs.
Greg Smith and Ned Eckersley both played across the line and were trapped lbw by Patterson during the morning session, which also saw Sarwan depart and Michael Thornely nibble a Moin Ashraf delivery behind the stumps in the last over before lunch.
Boyce and Shiv Thakor (35) added a crucial 68 for the fifth wicket before the left-hander and Wayne White shared 60 for the sixth after Thakor had chipped Ashraf to short cover.
White then holed out off Rafiq and Claude Henderson, who also added 50 with Boyce for the eighth wicket, fell the same way as Thakor had to Patterson with the second new ball.
Having been dropped on 26 and 94 by Adam Lyth at second slip and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, Boyce reached his ton just before McGrath struck.
Meanwhile, York-based Bairstow and Joe Root have been called up by the England Lions for two four-day matches against Australia ‘A’ between August 7 and 17.
They will miss Yorkshire’s Championship home match against Derbyshire.