Cricket: Capel digs in to resist Robinson

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Yorkshire 508 and 17-0

Northamptonshire 359-8 dec

MONUMENTAL defiance by David Capel, who spent almost six hours in compiling 89 runs, helped save Northamptonshire from the danger of a follow-on, and possible defeat, on the eve of their NatWest final at Lord's on Saturday.

Capel's tenacity enabled him, alone of the top order, to keep out Mark Robinson, Yorkshire's bowler of the moment, who took the first six wickets for 53 in 29 overs.

Heavy rain during the night delayed the start by only 30 minutes and had, unhappily, no effect whatsoever on the pitch, which remained as torpid as stale pudding.

Nevertheless Robinson gave Yorkshire a bright start. He had beaten both Rob Bailey and Capel several times outside the off-stump with his outswinger and what was needed, it was decided, was what the Germans - with their love of compound words - might call a Waqarknackercracker.

Robinson did not quite manage one of those but he did deliver one beauty that swung, then pitched straight and clipped Bailey's off stump after that dangerous player has added only three runs.

With 209 still needed to avoid the follow-on Capel and Kevin Curran rightly settled for re-entrenchment and the next 36 overs were spent in raising 101, a spell almost completely without incident. Capel reached 53 in 205 balls; Curran's temperament provokes him into periodic swings and his 50 came, in contrast, off 93.

The new ball, an event much anticipated, like Christmas, in this match, brought back Robinson. Curran was caught behind immediately and,two balls later Tony Penberthy was snapped up at deep gully. Capel then settled in with David Ripley for another siege, both occasionally picking off a looser delivery as the spinners returned. Nothing, it seemed, would move Capel, umpire Dickie Bird remaining unmoved when most of North Marine Road appealed for a catch behind off Jeremy Batty.

Immediately after tea, Capel suddenly sprang at Paul Grayson, gave a mighty heave to his bat and was bowled; a hedonistic end to a hairshirt innings. Ripley, a Yorkshireman who has long delighted in frustrating the Tykes, took charge of the barricades and, with Andy Roberts, nibbled away at the deficit.

With 10 runs needed to pass the follow-on figure, Ripley pushed forward to Batty's arm ball and was caught behind. Paul Taylor lifted Batty into the stand and as soon as Roberts had snicked the lead, Bailey declared.