Taylor ton saves Leicestershire
A maiden first-class century by Leicestershire’s 19-year-old batsman James Taylor helped his side salvage an unlikely draw after being made to follow on by Middlesex at Southgate.
The diminutive Taylor played a monumental innings of almost 300 minutes to finish unbeaten on 122 with 11 fours.
His innings steered Leicestershire to safety on 400 for seven and a lead of 165 when the LV= County Championship Division Two sides agreed a draw.
The former Shrewsbury School starlet, who was Wisden Almanack’s schools cricketer of the year for 2008, went to the wicket with his side still deep in trouble on 205 for five.
Indeed, at that stage Leicestershire still needed another 30 to make Middlesex bat again, yet despite his inexperience Taylor remained resolute to mark his seventh first-class game with a deserved ton.
Going into the final day on 177 for two and still 58 in arrears, the visitors looked destined for defeat once Middlesex seamer Tim Murtagh bagged three for one in eight deliveries in the morning session.
Boeta Dippenaar was only seven short of his first hundred for the visitors when, in aiming slightly across the line, he went leg before despite appearing to be well forward in playing the stroke.
Joshua Cobb was then caught on the crease by Murtagh's next delivery and was also given out lbw.
In Murtagh’s next over, HD Ackerman (60) had his middle stump plucked out when aiming an ambitious drive to bring Taylor to the crease an hour before lunch.
In tandem with his veteran skipper, Paul Nixon, Taylor set out his stall to bat out the rest of the day, which he managed to achieve in reasonably attractive style as the sixth-wicket pair added a dogged 108 in 45 overs.
Nixon was prepared to drop anchor and play second fiddle to the youngster, and the left-hander only contributed 31 to the partnership during his crucial 215-minute stay.
His determined knock ended soon after lunch when, in lunging at leg-spinner Dawid Malan, he edged to substitute wicketkeeper John Simpson – one of five Middlesex players to have donned the gloves in this match after Ben Scott, Eoin Morgan, David Nash and Neil Dexter.
After tea Taylor clipped a nicely-timed drive off Shaun Udal past a despairing mid-on to post his ninth four and record his hundred from 161 balls.
Udal immediately shook the youngster's hand.
Though Leicestershire lost Wayne White for 19, caught behind to give Murtagh deserved figures of 5-83, no one could remove Taylor and at 5pm Udal was shaking his hand again to congratulate him on the draw and his match-saving innings.