sport

Rains denies Leicestershire

Leicestershire's faint hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the NatWest T20 Blast were all but extinguished when rain denied them a great chance of victory against Northamptonshire at Grace Road.

Frustratingly for the Foxes, they had produced their best performance in the field in the competition this season - by bowling the Steelbacks out for 82 runs in 16.2 overs - before the rain swept in and the game was abandoned without another ball being bowled.

Umpires Steve Garratt and Nigel Llong waited as long as they could before making the decision but, after an 8.05pm inspection, it was clear that even the required minimum of five overs to make it a match would not be possible.

It was a blow to the home side who, with only two victories from their previous eight games, needed to win their final six to have a realistic chance of finishing in the top four of the North Group.

For defending champions Northamptonshire, the one point picked up from this no-result keeps them in contention as they have nine points on the board with four games remaining.

The Steelbacks were blown away by the Foxes seam bowlers on a helpful, green looking pitch that had good carry and bounce.

Only three batsmen, Kyle Coetzer, Steven Crook and James Middlebrook reached double figures and the innings contained just seven fours and a six.

Charlie Shreck, Anthony Ireland and Ben Raine all took three wickets, while Scott Styris had Ben Duckett caught behind by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien with the second ball of the first over he has bowled in the competition this season.

Meanwhile, North Group front runners Worcestershire and top four rivals Yorkshire suffered a washout for the second Friday in succession as rain set in at New Road from 5pm.

Having shot to the top of the group during a club record run of six consecutive wins, the Rapids remain on course for a quarter-final place despite encountering bad weather for the first time in the campaign with last week's call-off against Nottinghamshire.

For Yorkshire, their chances of qualifying for the knock-out stage are more in the balance after a soggy end to a crowded programme of five Twenty20 games in eight days.

They have taken four points in all, two from a victory over Leicestershire and one apiece from the rained-off games against Lancashire and Worcestershire.

Rain also meant no play was possible in the clash between Durham and Nottinghamshire at Chester-le-Street, with the abandonment confirmed at 7.25.

Umpires Nigel Cowley and David Millns faced a dilemma on their final inspection at 7.20 as the rain had all but stopped, but as it would have taken at least 30 minutes to remove the sheeting there was insufficient time for a five-over thrash.

Nottinghamshire move on to 12 points in the North Group having won five of their 10 matches this season, while Durham remain two points further back following the wash-out with four wins from 10 games.

Meanwhile, Andrew Flintoff's possible return to competitive cricket after a five-year absence was washed out at Edgbaston.

The all-rounder, who made his last competitive appearance for England against Australia in the 2009 Ashes decider at The Oval, was included in Lancashire's squad for their match against Birmingham Bears.

But the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled after rain began 90 minutes before the scheduled start and di d not relent. Umpires Jeremy Lloyds and George Sharp called off play after an 8pm inspection.