Cricket / County Championship: Bailey springs surprise: Northamptonshire's acting captain gives Lancashire a fright

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .330 and 120-3 dec

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .190-4 dec and 215-8

Match drawn

AS DEMON bowlers go, Rob Bailey would lay no claims. Something slightly more than an occasional off-spinner, he still dismissed Jason Gallian and John Crawley, two England hopefuls, and, as acting captain, helped Northamptonshire to an improbable draw.

Allan Lamb, nursing a hamstring injury which will rule him out for at least a fortnight, offered Lancashire the appetising target of 261 from what became 69 overs. It was fewer runs at a lower scoring rate than Northamptonshire had made even in their own first innings during a rain-hit 'declaration match'. Bailey, himself, had scored a half- century from 60 balls in the morning before Northamptonshire were hindered in their victory quest by a recurring shoulder injury to Curtly Ambrose, who bowled only 11 overs.

Little did Lancashire know that when they roared away with 75 in 25 overs for the loss of Steve Titchard, first ball to Ambrose. Bailey's inspired intervention, together with a productive burst from Paul Taylor, who dismissed Mike Watkinson and Wasim Akram for ducks, along with Warren Hegg, turned the game. Taylor's figures were 3 for 55, which understated his performance.

Alas for Northamptonshire it was not enough for only their second win in all competitions this season. On a pitch making run-chasing difficult, Crawley, Graham Lloyd and Nick Speak still distinguished themselves as befits a galaxy of Red Rose batsmen seeking to wear the three lions of England.

Crawley's inside edge on to his stumps was a major disappointment to all except the Northamptonshire partisan. Lloyd made a half-century from 74 balls before being leg- before, sweeping, and Speak excelled and survived being hit on the helmet by Taylor.

The final over produced a third wicket for Bailey when Speak was leg-before, but Glen Chapple survived the last five balls, confirming that once Gallian and Crawley had been dismissed, a positive result was improbable. The odds had been distinctly on Lancashire.