Gloucestershire v Leicestershire: Sheikh hat-trick lifts Leics spirits

Atif Sheikh
Sheikh had nine first-class wickets before his hat-trick
LV= County Championship Division Two, Nevil Road
Close, day two: Gloucestershire 646 v Leicestershire 246-2
Gloucestershire 5 pts, Leicestershire 2 pts
Match scorecard

Atif Sheikh lifted Leicestershire spirits against Gloucestershire with a hat-trick on the second day at Bristol.

After helping the hosts reach 513-5 on day one, Alex Gidman finally succumbed lbw to Sheikh for a career-best 264, before the left-arm seamer bowled Craig Miles and Liam Norwell.

But Tom Smith (49) and David Payne (31) dug in to take them to 646 all out.

An opening stand of 206 from Greg Smith (103) and Angus Robson (97) then helped Leicestershire close on 246-2.

However, they had to share the plaudits with 23-year-old Sheikh, who took the third hat-trick of the summer after Tim Groenewald for Derbyshire and Somerset's Alfonso Thomas in only his third first-class appearance.

Sheikh thereby became the first Leicestershire bowler to achieve the feat in the Championship since Matthew Hoggard against Glamorgan in 2011.

Leicestershire bowler Atif Sheikh:

"The lads were telling me to try a short ball after I got Alex Gidman's wicket, but I thought I would keep it simple and try hitting the stumps against nine and 10 batsmen.

"That's how it worked out. I have never taken a hat-trick in any form of cricket before, so to do so when I am trying so hard to make an impression with Leicestershire is amazing.

"It took me a long period on trial to earn a contract, but now that I have two more years in which to improve my game I am looking forward to working hard and doing well for the club."

BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Bob Hunt:

"The news that Alex Gidman is to leave Gloucestershire to join Worcestershire came as a complete surprise.

"With both Gidmans off to pastures new, the side will have a lot of rebuilding to do if they are to compete next season.

"Ironically, the the older Gidman announced the move on the back of a career-best innings and he will be missed greatly as a forceful and positive batsman who, if injury had not intervened, could well have played for England."

BBC Radio Leicester's Richard Rae:

"Leicestershire can be proud of their efforts after another extraordinary day's play at Bristol.

"Gloucestershire were continuing to pile on the runs when young left-arm quickie Atif Sheikh produced the first hat-trick of his short career.

"He first pinned Alex Gidman leg before wicket, and then produced two fast, well-pitched up and perfectly-directed deliveries to splay the stumps of first Craig Miles and then Liam Norwell.

"Smith and Robson then set a first-wicket record for the county against Gloucestershire, beating the 195-run stand between Will Jefferson and Matt Boyce in 2011, and it was cruel for Robson to be run out for 97 after passing 1,000 first-class runs for the season."