CRICKET: Ambrose runs riot

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The Independent Online
Northants 601-9 dec

Notts 359 and 29-0

As football was coming home, the Nottinghamshire batsmen were wishing they had stayed at home. Having watched Northamptonshire's exercise in patience on the first two days, the home side's capitulation was all the more puzzling.

The excellence and menace of Curtly Ambrose was an obvious solution to the riddle of how Nottinghamshire managed to fall so far short of their follow-on target on the most placid of batting tracks - yet the overnight batsmen, Paul Pollard and Paul Johnson, had earlier demonstrated that occupation of the crease was no great trial.

Lack of application was another explanation, and the New Zealander, Chris Cairns, was the prime culprit. Four sumptuous consecutive fours from the bowling of John Emburey had demonstrated his comfort and confidence. Yet, having survived a run-out scare and a dropped catch at slip, Cairns surrendered his prize wicket with a lazy chip to long-on, providing sweet revenge for Emburey.

Only the pace of both Ambrose and Paul Taylor had threatened to provide any cutting edge to the Northamptonshire attack as Pollard and Johnson slipped into cruise-control, the latter reaching his first century of the campaign. When both departed in a flurry of action following lunch, and after Lyndsay Walker popped up a catch to short leg having offered dogged resistance, Ambrose tore into the tail with relish to finish with six wickets, including a 26-ball spell of four for 26.

The West Indian was unlucky not to claim an early second-innings victim as Pollard prodded outside the off stump for the second time in the day. Emburey this time spurned the chance as the Nottinghamshire openers survived the tricky final hour.