Staffordshire take the Showcase honours after rain ends Leicestershire clash

Staffordshire seamer Rory Haydon is congratulated after taking the wicket of Leicestershire's Rishi Patel in the NCCA Showcase Game.

Staffordshire secured victory over Leicestershire under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in their NCCA Showcase game.

Staffs were set 305 to win from 50 overs at Knypersley – and had made their way to 102-2 from 17 before the expected rain descended on Tunstall Road and forced the game to be abandoned.

That left Staffordshire two runs clear of the DLS par score of 100 to see them earn the win. It is their first-ever victory over a first-class county.

In the action possible, a healthy crowd were treated to some excellent cricket with Colin Ackermann compiling a fine century for Leicestershire to sit alongside Wiaan Mulder’s half-century.

Staffordshire seamer Liam Hurt took four wickets, before county skipper James Kettleborough made 63 not out to keep his team the right side of the line when the elements had the final say in proceedings.

Umpires Hassan Adnan and Gareth Cross then called off play at just after 4.30pm with drizzle steadily falling and no realistic sign of conditions improving.

Leicestershire had made the journey from the East Midlands with a full strength side, bar Callum Parkinson and Rehan Ahmed who are preparing to be involved in the Hundred.

‘Calling correctly’

Foxes skipper Lewis Hill won the toss and elected to bat, no doubt looking to give his side’s top order the chance to get some meaningful practice before their Metro Bank 50-over campaign gets underway in earnest.

Staffordshire bowled impressively throughout the Leicestershire innings, but especially early on as Hurt and Rory Haydon settled into their task.

But there were still a few ominous signs as openers Rishi Patel and Sol Budinger handed the visitors a solid start.

The pair put on 56 inside 10 overs, but the brakes were firmly applied by Staffordshire when they took three wickets in the space of six deliveries.

Seamer Haydon kick-started matters from a Staffordshire perspective when he struck twice in an over.

Patel, having eased his way to 26, flicked a delivery into the leg side and found Hurt lurking at deep square leg to take a good catch on the bank.

Seamer Pip Jackson bowled impressively on his Staffordshire debut.
Seamer Pip Jackson bowled impressively on his Staffordshire debut. Picture: Alfie Shenton

And there was more success three balls later when Leicestershire captain Hill (1) was unfortunate to receive a delivery which went underground and bowled him.

That opened the door for Staffordshire and they were celebrating a third wicket in quick succession moments later.

Wolverhampton paceman Pip Jackson, making his county debut, earned a scalp with just his second ball in Staffordshire colours.

Jackson, who bowled with good pace, dismissed Budinger for 30 when he was superbly taken by Jack Redman at fine leg as Leicestershire fell from 56-0 to 58-3.

‘Time to rebuild’

Leicestershire needed a period of consolidation at that point – and they had two ideal men to help them with that task.

Australia’s Peter Handscomb, with 20 Test matches under his belt, and Netherlands all-rounder Ackermann set about reconstructing their side’s innings. There was the odd clean strike thrown in, but the duo seemed content to knock the ball around to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

They advanced the score to 149 before Handscomb fell in the 33rd over. He looked to pull a short delivery from Hurt to the ropes, but only managed to sky it to Michael Hill at mid-on.

Still, the recovery mission had been successful and allowed Mulder to put his foot down as Leicestershire stepped on it at the business end of their innings.

They managed to put on 108 in little more than 13 overs as their big hitting came to the fore.

Leicestershire's Colin Ackermann celebrates reaching his century.
Leicestershire’s Colin Ackermann celebrates reaching his century. Picture: Alfie Shenton

Ackermann, who had reached his half-century off 69 balls, only required another 33 to hit the three-figure landmark.

And Mulder was no slouch, either, acknowledging his 50 from a mere 43 deliveries.

Ackermann departed for 116 with the score on 258 when he launched Hurt into the leg side, but only into the safe hands of Hill patrolling the mid-wicket boundary. His innings contained six fours and six sixes.

And soon after Mulder, having made 52 – featuring four boundaries and two over the ropes – aimed a hoick at a Hurt delivery and had his furniture rearranged.

‘Late charge’

However, that merely brought Louis Kimber to the crease, who helped himself to an unbeaten 30 in no time at all with three sixes thrown in for good measure.

Hurt (4-62) claimed his fourth victim when he nonchalantly took a one-handed return catch to account for Tom Scriven, before the Foxes’ innings came to a close on 304-7.

Staffordshire did perform impressively, although the quality of Leicestershire did shine through as they added 118 in the final 10 overs.

Staffordshire captain James Kettleborough made 63 not out before rain ended play.
Staffordshire captain James Kettleborough made 63 not out before rain ended play. Picture: Alfie Shenton

Staffs knew they needed to keep one eye on the weather and be ahead of the rate after 10 overs, which constituted a completed match.

Opening duo James Kettleborough and Callum Hawkins started off well – with the former looking in superb touch.

The Showcase fixtures have often brought the best out of Kettleborough, as demonstrated by his 192 not out for Bedfordshire against Northamptonshire last summer.

The Staffs pair had put on 31 before Hawkins was bowled by a beauty from experienced paceman Chris Wright to exit for 10.

And Wright struck again eight runs later when Zen Malik got a leading edge as he tried to flick the ball through mid-wicket and was snapped up by Ackermann in the covers.

‘Kettleborough’s class’

Kettleborough wasn’t fazed by those two losses, though, and raced to a 45-ball half-century as he proved he could still rub shoulders with the pros.

He had hit 10 fours and one six in his innings when the rain arrived, with Hill handily placed on 19 not out as part of an unbroken stand of 63.

The umpires tried to play through the drizzle, but then it became too heavy and the players retired to the pavilion.

Hopes of a restart faded fast and it was Staffordshire who had done enough to claim a DLS method victory.

It’s a feather in Staffs’ cap, but like Leicestershire they have bigger issues to worry about.

Not least the weekend trip to Norfolk for the latest instalment of the NCCA Championship Division One East programme as they look to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Bucks.

Main image: Staffordshire seamer Rory Haydon is congratulated after dismissing Leicestershire’s Rishi Patel. Picture: Alfie Shenton