Yorkshire's worrying slump in form continued at Grace Road yesterday when Leicestershire Foxes crushed them by 66 runs in the National League.

The fact that Leicestershire had lost their first three matches only rubbed salt into White Rose wounds and unless something is done soon to halt the slide then relegation will become a real threat.

In their previous game in the competition, Phoenix had sunk to 54 all out against Essex Eagles which was their lowest score in one-day cricket and it seemed as if they could finish well below that total when they dipped to 28-5 in reply to Leicestershire's hefty 247-8.

But Vic Craven and the lower order saved them from that embarrassment and they recovered to 181 before the final wicket fell in the last over.

There was a disappointment for Yorkshire before the start when their England bowler, Matthew Hoggard, was ruled unfit with a recurrence of the stomach strain he suffered in the first match of the season.

Hoggard will join the England camp today but must be doubtful for the first Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's on Thursday.

Yorkshire skipper, Anthony McGrath, who has received a surprise call-up into the England squad, was unable to celebrate because he was out lbw to his sixth ball for only a single.

The problems began for Yorkshire in their first over when Matthew Wood was lbw to Phil DeFreitas's second delivery but it was medium-pacer Charlie Dagnall who then tore his way through the batting with some great balls which nipped back off the seam.

Pinch-hitter Chris Silverwood was caught at deep cover aiming a big blow at Dagnall who picked up two wickets in one over as McGrath fell lbw and Richard Blakey edged a slow ball which lifted to Darren Maddy at second slip.

Dagnall produced a beauty to bowl Gary Fellows through the gate to give him four wickets for nine runs in 15 balls but opener Michael Lumb and fellow left-hander Craven repaired some of the damage by taking Yorkshire to 59 when Maddy joined the attack and his second ball had Lumb splendidly stumped by Paul Nixon.

Craven, the most fluent of Yorkshire's batsmen, took two boundaries in an over off Dagnall with strong drives through the off side, and with Tim Bresnan striking the ball well if not always finding the gaps the score moved into three figures, Bresnan hitting Maddy cleanly over mid-wicket for six.

At 104, however, Craven gave himself too much room and was bowled middle stump by Jeremy Snape for 35 and 18 runs later Bresnan fell to Darren Stevens for a career-best 25. Andy Gray batted courageously for an unbeaten 30 but his late defiance was never going to alter the result.

Winning the toss, Leicestershire soon got over the shock of losing an early wicket and the only bowler to trouble them was Ryan Sidebottom who grabbed 5-42 with his best effort in five years.

The left-armer began by having DeFreitas caught off a leading edge at point in the third over and later kept Leicestershire from running amok with three wickets in five balls before signing off with the dismissal of former Yorkshire second teamer John Sadler.

Leicestershire never looked back after Indian Virender Sehwag and Stevens put on 96 for the second wicket, Sehwag compiling 54 from 70 balls with six fours and Stevens 63 off 71 deliveries, also with six boundaries.

Yorkshire's fielding was erratic, the low point coming when Silverwood spilled the simplest catches at backward point to let Sehwag off the hook when he was 27.

Updated: 10:21 Monday, May 19, 2003