“I don’t mind if we’re beaten, as long as we’re not humiliated.”
“Could have been worse: I could have bought a ticket on the Titanic.”
These were just some of the scathing comments overheard at Grace Road today as Leicestershire were bowled out for 48 on day 3 of their championship match against Northamptonshire, subsiding to abject defeat by an innings and 155 runs.
The day started off cool and overcast with a stiff breeze. By about 11:30 I’d noticed there were tears streaming down my face, and while this was down to the cold wind blowing across the field it could just as well have been despair at the fact that once again, our year seems to be heading south in at least one of the current formats.
Greg Smith fell at 11:19: three wickets down, 33 runs on the board.
James Taylor followed a couple of minutes later: 33-4.
At 11:57 Leicestershire were 40-9 and spectators started leaving.
At 12:08, it was all over.
Matthew Boyce was top scorer, with 12 – the only man to make it into double figures.
It is not the lowest ever total for the county – that was achieved, if achieved is the right word, in 1912, when Leicestershire were all out versus Kent to the tune of 24. It is not a statistic that makes the reading of today’s scorecard any easier.
That this should follow hard on the heels of the news that Warwickshire have approached the club with a view to buying James Taylor out of the last year of his contract at Grace Road does not seem coincidental.
Taylor was uncharacteristically out of sorts in this game, departing for no score this morning and making only 8 in the first innings. Leicestershire have said they have rejected Warwickshire’s offer, and will renegotiate a contract extension with Taylor to keep him at Grace Road.
Taylor was not included in either of the two England squads announced this morning, for the upcoming Twenty20 and ODIs versus Sri Lanka, despite many predicting he would be.
In answer to the very reasonable objection that surely, he is now the finished article, England’s selectors have indicated they would like to see Taylor face more first class bowling.
Warwickshire’s director of cricket is Ashley Giles, a part-time England selector.
Draw your own conclusions.
Bizarrely, as well as offering to buy Taylor out of his contract, Warwickshire have also offered Leicestershire one of their players in part exchange to sweeten the deal. I’m guessing this would not be Jonathan Trott or Ian Bell.
While one must perforce give praise to Northants’ bowling attack for their clinical and comprehensive dismantling of the home side this morning, it’s surely not a stretch to think that the questions surrounding Taylor’s future, and thus that of the club, has unsettled what is a close-knit dressing room. They would not be human otherwise.
And this is what gets me, as a Leicestershire fan: that feeling of being torn between pride that one of our own is worthy of such covetous attention, and despair at the disruption this will inevitably cause the club. God knows we have had enough of that and more the last few months.
The sun came out from behind the clouds today as the last wicket fell. For Leicestershire, however, the outlook is once again distinctly gloomy.