Cricket: Ambrose contains Warwickshire run race

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The Independent Online
Northants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .334-9 dec and 218-4 dec

Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . .316-7 dec and 206-5

Match drawn

DAVID CAPEL'S claim for a return catch offered by Andy Moles, the Warwickshire opening batsman, in the throes of a failing run chase did nothing for diplomatic relations around the borders of Northamptonshire and Warwickshire yesterday.

The neighbouring counties frequently produce some controversy, but Capel did it this time single-handedly. After Moles was recalled by the umpires after a low catch was deemed invalid, Capel hurled the ball away and delivered a bouncer next ball.

Capel is a whole-hearted trier with no track record of flouting decisions. He had dashed to short cover, snatched at a chance given off a rising ball and the trusting Moles trundled off after checking its validity with the bowler.

Half-way back to the pavilion, Moles was urged to return from the balcony while Barrie Leadbeater at square leg was consulted by his fellow umpire David Shepherd. They ruled the ball had not carried and it matched the opinion of almost everyone. The eight-strong press-box was unanimous. Moles was not out.

He had made 40 and advanced to 66 off 105 balls before being caught at the wicket off Curtly Ambrose, who confirmed his status as a master of containment. Ambrose highlighted Warwickshire's familiar sterility in a run chase of 237 from 47 overs, despite their best opening partnership this season of 141 from 33 overs.

The bane of their Championship life remains an inability to score quickly. Andy Lloyd, the captain at No 3, has a Championship average of less than 25 this summer and they have a callow or make-do-and- mend look down below.

Roger Twose batted admirably in partnership with Moles and made 78, his highest first-class score in England, off 108 balls. When they were parted, Warwickshire needed 96 from 15 overs. It was mission impossible, even with nine wickets intact.

They required 126 from 20 overs, 73 off 10 and gradually slipped out of reach. Most challengers would have exploited this opportunity, especially as second place behind Essex, 40 points behind but with a game in hand, was beckoning.

Either team needed to win this match to keep the Championship alive. Both tried to fashion something with Allan Lamb exploiting Warwickshire's eight-strong bowling attack with 107 off 103 balls alongside his first-innings 209. He became the first Northamptonshire batsman to make a double- century and a hundred in the same match and only the 11th in Championship history.

Lamb's achievement was marred by the first-innings meanderings occupying two days. If he had not batted into the second, the game might have produced something positive.