Klein in hot water as Azad and Slater punish weak Lancashire attack
Don Bradman and his double-hundreds have forever linked New Road at Worcester with the start of the English season. Except this county season has begun in August, not April, and this Bob Willis Trophy match does not involve Worcestershire at all, but is a home game for Lancashire.
Such anomalies have happened before – Middlesex hosted a game at Chelmsford on the eve of a Lord’s Cup final, while Surrey relocated to Lord’s in 1914 when the Oval was requisitioned for war – and this game was to have been staged at Leicester until their lockdown.
Thereupon it became a Lancashire home game, except they did not have a ground because Old Trafford is being prepared for Wednesday’s first Test against Pakistan, and Aigburth is unavailable.
Both Lancashire and Leicestershire are staying in the newish hotel at the ground, but on separate floors, which should ensure there are no repercussions or reprisals following the incident when Leicestershire’s left-arm pace bowler Dieter Klein threw the ball at, and hurt, Lancashire’s Danny Lamb.
It is for the match referee, Alec Swann, to decide whether there should be any punishment beyond the five-run penalty imposed at the time by the umpires.
The incident happened when Lancashire were extending their overnight 265 for six to 322 on a dry pitch, before Leicestershire replied with 183 for two.
Klein, bowling round the wicket, was straight-driven by Lancashire’s young all-rounder Lamb, one of many youngsters trying to make an impression in this mini-season in the absence of most overseas players.
Lamb middled his straight drive so the ball sped back to Klein, who threw the ball back and hit Lamb on his left foot. Klein walked towards the batsman with his arm raised in admission of his error, but Lamb was slumped on his knees and looking at the ground.
Klein had pretended to throw several times before, on days one and two, but throwing the ball as he did was a clear infringement of Law 42.3 on the subject of “throwing the ball at a player, umpire or another person in an inappropriate and dangerous manner”.
It was not a mitigating circumstance that a witty tweeter was to observe that the incident marked a serious “D. Klein in players’ behaviour”. Klein is also an international cricketer: born in South Africa, he has represented Germany in T20 internationals, and had a good game against Spain.
The senior umpire, Nick Cook, who had imposed a fivepoint penalty before for the same offence, strolled over to his square-leg colleague, Rob White, to check that Lamb had not tried to take a run – if Lamb had moved out of his crease, it was only a few inches, but there was no side-on camera to confirm.
Cook passed judgment as the cathedral bells tolled noon. Both in real time and as a replay the incident was unacceptable, but not the gravest violation.
The rest of the day belonged to Leicestershire, rather surprisingly, as they had finished bottom of the Second Division last season, whereas Lancashire had topped it.
Their opening pair of Hassan Azad and Ben Slater put on a first-wicket stand of 153 at an old-fashioned pace of 58 overs, with Slater going on to his sixth first-class century and finishing on 104 off 223 balls. He has been loaned by Nottinghamshire for a fortnight, that is for a couple of Bob Willis Trophy games, and might have that extended as a rare case of a Notts player going to Leicester, rather than the other way around.
Lancashire are lacking a whole cohort of bowlers: James Anderson, Richard Gleeson and Saqib Mahmood are on England Test or one-day international duties, Matt Parkinson was injured on ODI duty, while Graham Onions niggled his back on the morning of this game and Luke Wood is also injured.
This left Lancashire having to select three first-class debutants: a right-arm pace bowler in Ed Moulton, a tall left-arm spinner in Tom Hartley, who is starting to find turn, and last year’s England Under-19 captain George Balderson, a coming all-rounder.
Hartley took his maiden firstclass wicket when Azad edged a bat-pad catch to short leg. As lefthanded openers go, Azad is more cautious than Slater, and has the mannerism of pointing his bat in the air above the bowler’s head before bringing it down.
But it is nothing quirky compared to Rory Burns, and he used his feet to pace and spin to avoid being bogged down.
At least Lancashire and Leicestershire have only had to endure plague and pestilence, whereas Worcester has suffered flood as well – six inundations last winter.
Good start: Ben Slater, on loan at Leicestershire, hit an unbeaten 104