Henderson et al deny Gloucs
Leicestershire’s bowlers held their nerve to deny Gloucestershire victory on a thrilling final day of the LV= County Championship Division Two match at Cheltenham.
Set 222 to win in 53 overs, the hosts looked to be favourites after half-centuries from skipper Alex Gidman and Dan Housego put them in the driving seat.
Needing 47 off the final 10 overs, Gloucestershire faltered badly at the death, losing four quick wickets before putting up the shutters and settling for the draw, reaching the close on 209 for eight, just 13 runs short of their target.
Leicestershire were indebted to veteran South African spinner Claude Henderson, who bowled unchanged from the Chapel End after tea to return figures of 4-80 and undermine the chase.
Gloucestershire were well and truly in the hunt after Gidman smashed 62 from 55 balls, including seven fours and two sixes, in a stand of 94 with Housego, who made 50 from 91 deliveries.
Gidman was brilliantly caught by Ned Eckersley at short midwicket off Henderson, and Housego followed him back to the pavilion soon afterwards, caught at the wicket fending at a rising delivery from Robbie Joseph, who claimed 3-36.
Joseph then removed Hamish Marshall and Ian Cockbain in quick succession, while the wily Henderson accounted for Ed Young and Ian Saxelby to halt Gloucestershire in their tracks.
Rather than risk defeat, the ninth-wicket pair of James Fuller and David Payne played out the last three overs with minimum risk.
Resuming their second innings on 142 for five – just 75 ahead – bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire were under pressure from the outset on a two-paced pitch that was offering assistance to spin.
But any thoughts Gloucestershire might have had of achieving a quick and decisive victory were dispelled by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Matthew Boyce, who staged a restorative stand 83 for the sixth wicket.
Gloucestershire were becoming frustrated, only to be gifted a much-needed breakthrough in unexpected fashion, Boyce being run out for 23 by Benny Howell’s throw from deep midwicket following a farcical mix-up.
Sarwan still stood between the home side and a third championship win of the summer and skipper Gidman played his trump card in a bid to remove Leicestershire’s overseas player, throwing the ball to occasional bowler Howell.
The ploy paid almost instantaneous dividends, Howell’s medium pace inducing a leading edge from Sarwan and Housego taking the catch at extra cover.
He had struck 93 from 150 balls, hitting 12 fours, and done a good deal to frustrate Gloucestershire.
When Paul Dixey was pinned on the front foot by paceman Fuller in the last over before lunch, Leicestershire were 240 for eight, with Gloucestershire clearly fancying their chances.
Wayne White and Henderson provided further defiance in a gritty ninth-wicket partnership of 48, but the new ball did for them both.