Bailey takes control

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The Independent Online
reports from Bristol

Northamptonshire 226 Gloucestershire 203 Northants win by 23 runs

Reaching the NatWest semi-finals meant much to Northamptonshire, illustrating that they can and do take the pressure on major occasions. They did it on two successive days squeezing Warwickshire, the Championship leaders, to defeat on Monday, before hanging in and defending a relatively meagre total yesterday albeit on an awkward pitch.

Paul Taylor,with 4 for 34, compensated for Andy Symonds the Anglo-Australian all-rounder, who with Jack Russell added 73 in 12 overs, though Rob Bailey, for his half-century and economic off-spin bowling won the man of the match award.

Bailey helped Northamptonshire to continue their limited overs transformation. He won the award in the previous round at Trent Bridge and now his team have been unbeaten in 10 consecutive limited overs games against first- class opposition.

He eased the problem of losing David Capel for stitches to a cut around the right eye after he had deflected a drive from Tony Wright. Gloucestershire's start was painfully slow but their revival confirmed the talent of Symonds whose fielding in the deep and accurate throwing complements his batting skill.

Gloucestershire needed a sense of urgency because Dean Hodgson made only eight from 63 balls and Wright also accumulated slowly.

Northamptonshire also had their batting struggles, notably against Javagal Srinath whose subtle change of pace and return of 4 for 38 ushered in the duel of the overseas players featuring Anil Kumble, whose performances have put his side to second place in the Championship table.

A crowd of 5,000 made the ground claustrophobic compared with the usual scattering of diligent devotees.The pitch, was slow and reluctant to yield runs.

Bailey's innings of 52 occupied 127 balls and doubtless he carries the deeper responsibility after he ran a single to backward square leg on Allan Lamb's strike.

Lamb, surprised at his fellow batsman's rush, had no start at all and gave Bailey a laser glare when being run out at the non-striker's end by Cooper.

Russell Warren prospered before falling to a gully catch by Martyn Ball. His fielding was more like the rubber variety and he also dismissed Kevin Curran leg before and Capel, caught at silly point, in successive deliveries.

Cooper, the former Nottinghamshire player, bowled with the economy that has been a hallmark of his career. He dismissed Tony Penberthy through Jack Russell's catch in his golden week.

Alas, for him and Gloucestershire the visions of winning this title after a 22 year gap disappeared in the heat of the day.