Teenage opener Harry Dearden was dismissed just 13 runs short of what would have been a maiden first-class century, as Leicestershire enjoyed the best of the first day’s play after Glamorgan chose to bowl first in the Specsavers County Championship match at the Fischer County Ground.
Heavy cloud and a greenish tinge to the pitch were undoubtedly factors in visiting captain Jacques Rudolph’s decision, as must have been the fact that the Foxes’ previous four opening partnerships of the season had been six, two, ten and ten, but Michael Hogan, Lukas Carey and Merchant de Lange did not find as much swing or seam as they might have expected.
Carey should have made an early breakthrough when the left-handed Dearden clipped an in-swinger straight to Rudolph at short mid-wicket. Despite getting two hands to the ball, the South African could not hold the chest-high chance.
The only other chance of the morning came when Horton, having hit the ball straight to Andrew Salter at point, called for a single. Had Salter’s throw hit, Dearden would have been four yards short of his ground.
After going through the morning session without losing a wicket, the Foxes then lost three for just five runs shortly after lunch. Horton, perhaps still in discomfit after being hit amidships by the previous delivery, was bowled by Carey, and the 19-year-old seamer made it two in two balls by finding the edge of Neil Dexter’s bat.
FOUR | When Dearden unleashes an extra cover drive, it stays hit! pic.twitter.com/bxuekz331C— Leicestershire CCC🏏 (@leicsccc) April 21, 2017
Acting captain Ned Eckersley then drove over a full delivery from Michael Hogan to leave his side teetering on 86-3, but Dearden and Mark Pettini fought their way through a testing period before Dearden reached his 50 off 154 balls, having hit seven boundaries.
Leicestershire batsman Harry Dearden said: “It was nibbling around and swinging, especially early on, and they bowled pretty well up top - I just tried to knuckle down and be as disciplined as I could.
“When the three wickets fell so quickly [after lunch] we did have to retrench, get back to where we were, just keep battling really. I was trying not to get too far ahead of myself, stay level, stay positive, and I was very disappointed to get just before tea. It didn’t turn, I just played around it and it came off my pad on to the stumps.
“But we’ve had a pretty good day after being put in. It’s a big day tomorrow, if we can go big hopefully we can put them under pressure.”
He and Pettini had added 90 for the fourth wicket when shortly before tea, he tried to clip a full delivery from off-spinner Andrew Salter through mid-wicket, missed and was bowled off his pads.
Cameron Delport, making his first-class debut for Leicestershire, hit three sweetly timed boundaries before lifting Hogan high back over his head for a huge six. When Carey dropped him badly off Salter, Glamorgan might have feared the worst, but three balls later Salter bowled the South African without further addition.
Pettini was established, however, and the former Essex batsman went to his second championship half-century in as many games, receiving solid support from Lewis Hill before bad light saw play close seven overs early.
Glamorgan bowler Andrew Salter: “I was happy to take two wickets, they came as a bit of a surprise because it didn’t turn too much, it was more about trying to control the run rate.
“For the majority of the day we bowled really well as a group, I think Lukas Carey bowled amazingly up top, the best I’ve seen him bowl. It wasn’t until the end that they got away from us. I felt we stuck to our plans pretty well and it was a bit of a shame they got a bit of momentum at the end. It's a good cricket wicket, hopefully we can bat well on it."