Cricket: County Championship: Richards' restraint reaps rewards

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The Independent Online
Glamorgan 319-3 v Middlesex

THE 'alternative Test match', featuring nine England players - rejects, hopefuls and others sadly overlooked - and the top two teams in the Championship, produced a Welsh pot-pourri yesterday.

Something for everyone, except, perhaps, Middlesex. The leaders may be 16 points ahead of their unfamiliar rivals, but they were on the wrong end of the bats belonging to century- maker Adrian Dale and Viv Richards, who is 97 not out. Their unbroken partnership yielded 182 from 67 overs in stifling heat.

It got to Phil Tufnell, whose 35- over unchanged spell, which cost 75 runs and brought the wicket of Stephen James with his fifth delivery, gave way to histrionics. Dale played the ball back down the pitch twice, only to feel the draft as it whizzed past his eyebrows, petulantly thrown by the bowler into Keith Brown's gloves. The act was as intimidatory as it was unnecessary.

Dale, a South African brought to England when he was six months old, kept cool with his fifth first-class hundred. He had also completed his fifth consecutive half-century, not bad for a 24-year-old batsman almost unknown beyond the Severn Bridge.

Middlesex were up the creek without a paddle and now face trying to avoid defeat on a pitch already offering turn. Richards's spinning fingers, along with those of Robert Croft, are twitching at the prospect.

Glamorgan prospered on the three Rs - Richards, restrained and responsible. He prowled around like a caged panther, curbing his natural instincts to attack and castigating himself when he failed to do so.

His half-century off 148 balls took 2 1/4 hours, offering reverse statistics to those usually and tangibly recording his rapid accumulation. Richards, in his final season, had tea alone on the balcony, his concentration riveted on a more important task than helping Glamorgan to full batting points. The grander design was a total geared to bat Middlesex out of the game and possibly force victory, no matter how long it took.

There were meagre successes for Middlesex. Hugh Morris edged a catch after becoming the first batsman to reach 1,000 runs this summer, James was caught off bat and pad and Matthew Maynard mistimed a cover drive.

Richards and Dale consumed the rest of the day, or rather nibbled away at it, leaving few crumbs for the Middlesex captain's table. Mike Gatting urged on Tufnell with the cry 'only 15 minutes to lunch, come on'. It produced an instant wicket.

A few hours later, Richards felt the same way, briefly losing concentration in his urge to reach three figures before the close. He flashed at Angus Fraser, seeking the boundary he needed for his 114th first-class hundred. Today, he might do it in singles.