Richard Spiller looks back on five of the best List A clashes between the counties as they prepare for the Royal London Cup clash at Grace Road.
1966: Gillette Cup, 2nd round – Surrey won by 46 runs
Having chosen to bat first in the inaugural List A clash between the counties – the Gillette Cup was in it’s fourth season – Surrey’s 231-8 was built around a third wicket partnership worth 98 between John Edrich (77) and Ken Barrington (61). That was augmented by 21 apiece coming from skipper Micky Stewart, Ron Tindall and unbeaten Mike Willett down the order. Most successful bowler was Graham Cross, who combined his career at Grace Road with making 509 appearances for Leicester City FC.
Tony Lock, captaining Leicestershire against his old county after being brought over from his new home in Perth, went wicketless and then saw his charges slump to 23-3. Middle-order resistance came through Clive Inman (47), Jack Birkenshaw (28) and Cross (53) but Geoff Arnold’s 4-28 from 12 overs, backed up by two wickets each from new ball partner and Richard Jefferson and off-spinner Pat Pocock, contained the reply to 185-9.
Surrey 231-8 (60), Leicestershire 185-9 (60).
1974: Benson & Hedges Cup final – Surrey won by 27 runs
Surrey had only reached one previous final – suffering a severe beating from Yorkshire in the Gillette Cup in years earlier – and for much of their return it seemed they would go home empty-handed again.
Having decided to bat first, John Edrich’s typically solid 40 kept Leicestershire at bay but only Younis Ahmed (43) and Robin Jackman, who was dropped early and went on to make a vital 36, scored with any freedom. He had to watch from the non-striker’s end while Ken Higgs removed Alan Butcher, Pat Pocock and Arnold Long to claim the second hat-trick in the competition’s history.
Surrey’s 170 all out in the final over did not seem enough, even on a low and slow pitch which made scoring difficult, but Geoff Arnold trapped Barry Dudleston lbw with the first ball of the reply. Well marshalled by Edrich, Surrey’s bowlers and fielders frustrated their opponents, the dangerous Brian Davison (13) driving Arnold into the covers. Graham Roope’s medium-pace was ideal for the conditions and he was aided by two decisions from umpire Bill Alley which infuriated Leicestershire, sending back Mick Norman (24) and Roger Tolchard (0) lbw even though they were well down the pitch.
With left-armer Alan Butcher conceding just 23 in his 11 overs, off-spinner Pat Pocock also played a vital part, his 3-26 including a smart stumping from Long. As the Foxes slid to defeat, former England captain Ray Illingworth was the final man to go, bowled by Arnold for 23, to give Surrey their first List A trophy.
Surrey 170ao (54.1), Leicestershire 143ao (54).
1981: NatWest Trophy, 2nd round – Leicestershire won by 16 runs
Runners-up the previous summer, Surrey were not only eager to better that but had the Benson & Hedges Cup final three days ahead of them. So a long drawn out saga which resulted in a Friday evening thrash – long before they became an established part of the county programme – was the last thing they needed.
Rain prevented any play on Wednesday July 22, the scheduled day of the tie, and Leicestershire’s 261, being all out from the final ball of their 60 overs, was split over the next two. It was built around 137no from Brian Davison, the strokemaker who represented Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), adding 110 for the sixth wicket with Mike Garnham (58). David Thomas took 4-60.
Surrey dawdled to 12-0 from eight overs before another deluge which was so severe that the playing conditions of the time required the original match to be scrubbed – deleting Davison’s innings along with it – and a whole new 10-over game to be staged.
Clearly in top nick, Davison hit the first three balls for four, six and six, taking 22 off Robin Jackman’s over, his 43 the dominant feature of Leicestershire’s 104-5. That proved too many for Surrey, even though Sylvester Clarke cracked three sixes in his 45no, fellow West Indies paceman Andy Roberts conceding just seven runs from his two overs.
Leicestershire 104-5 (10), Surrey 88-2 (10).
1996: Axa Equity & Law League – Surrey won by 10 wickets
On the way to their first title in 14 years, Surrey enjoyed some nailbiting successes. But this was a freakishly fast victory which took up just 26.3 overs on a sunny afternoon in mid-June. It was completed in one hour and 53 minutes, beating the previous record by 20 minutes.
Leicestershire, who were on their way to winning the County Championship, chose to bat first and could be confident after making 311 in their previous match, albeit in a losing cause.
But they lost their first two wickets without a run on the board and were soon 23-6, Chris Lewis – playing against his first county, where he would return in 1998 – and Martin Bicknell claiming three wickets each. There was no respite either, Joey Benjamin and Australian all-rounder Brendon Julian following up in devastating fashion to share the rest of the wickets. It seemed that every time the ball was hit in the air it would be caught, Alistair Brown’s outstanding snatch at third man to remove opener Vince Wells having set the tone, and the visitors were all out for 48 with no batsman reaching double-figures and extras the top-scorer on 12.
If the visitors were hoping for a quick finish then they got their way, Brown (30no) and Darren Bicknell (15no) knocking off the runs in a mere 4.3 overs.
Leicestershire 48ao (22), Surrey 50-0 (4.3).
1997: Benson & Hedges Cup, semi-final: Surrey won by 130 runs
A nasty habit of blowing semi-finals was clearly playing on the minds of the Surrey squad when they came to this match, responding with a fine display which earned a day at Lord’s.
There was another big reason why Adam Hollioake’s side were desperate to win the competition, having resolved to commemorate the life of Graham Kersey, their wicketkeeper who had died in a car crash in Australia during the winter, in the best way they could.
Although the hosts lost Alistair Brown (4) and Ben Hollioake (9) cheaply after being sent in, Alec Stewart (87) and Graham Thorpe (79) were soon in command to add 158 for the third wicket, Adam Hollioake’s 63 from 40 balls punishing a withering attack to reach 308-8.
Leicestershire’s chase was soon in ruins at 32-4 and 68-6, Martin Bicknell at his magnificent best as he carved his way through the upper-order to claim 4-41 from 10 straight overs. Paul Dixon’s typically doughty 53 plus a late 30 from Tim Mason delayed the end, two wickets for Ian Salisbury and Adam Hollioake finishing off the visitors for 178.
Surrey went on to beat Kent by eight wickets in the final.
Surrey 308-8 (50), Leicestershire 178ao (45.3).