Ben Mike returns to haunt former club Yorkshire CCC with bat and ball

THE problem with playing County Championship cricket in early April was hardly concealed by the fact that no play was possible in four of the nine matches on the opening day of the season.

Headingley managed to avoid the fate suffered by Chester-le-Street, Canterbury, Manchester and Derby, squeezing in 46 overs after play finally commenced at 3.40pm, but when you marginalise the four-day competition in favour of The Hundred, then such an outcome is not unexpected.

There was further frustration for spectators on Saturday, when a wet outfield - following heavy overnight rain, and in spite of winds strong enough to have uplifted the most tight-fitting toupee - prevented any action until 1.40pm.

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At least the best part of 70 overs was possible thereafter, Yorkshire reaching 72-2 after dismissing Leicestershire for 354 in their first innings, grey clouds parting to give plenty of sunshine.

Ben Mike returned to haunt his former club. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comBen Mike returned to haunt his former club. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Ben Mike returned to haunt his former club. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

The game had yet to take shape when day two began, the visitors 164-5 after a fine half-century from Marcus Harris and three wickets for all-rounder George Hill.

It did not take long for Yorkshire to strike, which they did twice in successive overs from Matt Milnes as Peter Handscomb and Scott Currie were caught behind.

Handscomb, the former Yorkshire batsman, played an airy-fairy shot outside off stump with no foot movement, and Currie appeared to be claimed off an inside edge as he tried to drive square of the wicket. It left Leicestershire 177-7, which became 215-8 when Matty Fisher defeated Ben Cox’s forward push to bowl him for 32.

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At that stage, a Leicestershire batting point was still some way off, but by the time the ninth-wicket pair of Ben Mike and Tom Scriven had been separated, the visitors were closing in on a third.

Mike, who left Yorkshire in November to return to Leicestershire, scored only 143 runs in 16 innings for the White Rose, with a best of 30 not out against Leicestershire in a T20 at Grace Road last June.

Here he plundered 90, sharing with Scriven a stand of 119 in 26.4 overs, beating Leicestershire’s previous best ninth-wicket effort against Yorkshire of 100 between Stewie Dempster and Haydon Smith at Hull in 1939.

After Scriven fell lbw to Ben Coad for 56, Mike perished hitting out in pursuit of a maiden first-class hundred (his top score remains 99 not out), well caught by Fisher running in from deep cover off Milnes, who took 4-73 in a spirited display.

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The 25-year-old, batting at No 9, faced 113 balls and hit nine fours to go with four leg-side sixes. Thanks in large part to Mike, the last three Leicestershire wickets doubled the side’s total.

It left Yorkshire 22 overs to negotiate, 18 of them possible before the light closed in shortly before 7pm.

Adam Lyth and Fin Bean picked up from where they left off last season, sharing 45 for the first wicket in measured manner.

The openers, who combined for 11 fifty-plus partnerships in 20 innings in last year’s competition, with an average stand of 64, batted sensibly in the swirling gale, defending solidly and picking off bad balls.

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It took a good delivery from Mike – who else? – to break the partnership, his third ball of the innings finding Bean’s outside edge. Mike struck with the third ball of his second over too, Shan Masood edging a drive to Handscomb at second slip.

Lyth, who passed 12,000 Championship runs during the course of his innings, led the way with an unbeaten 43, George Hill chipping in with 13.

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