Cricket: Cream rises to surface: Richard Williams sees the weather hold up Warwickshire's attempt to hit the jackpot

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The Independent Online
THE SUN came out as Brian Lara ambled down the pavilion steps to begin his last innings at Lord's in this historic season. Then the man who has decorated the English summer with a record first-class score and eight other County Championship centuries took 36 minutes to score his first run.

Strangely, Lara's agility and aggression have not made him anything like the sort of asset in one-day matches that he has been to Warwickshire during their capture of the Championship. Perhaps hit-and-giggle cricket (to borrow Ted Dexter's phrase) just does not suit him, the pressure to produce the goods straight away undermining his natural sense of the rhythm and cadence of a classically proportioned innings.

Yesterday he seemed determined to make the game move at his speed. He almost disappointed the full house by departing after his second ball, when he chased a swinging legside delivery from Phil Newport which ended in Steve Rhodes's gloves. They were raising their voices again immediately afterwards, when the next ball slapped threateningly into the crouching batsman's pads.

So it went on. Three times the little Trinidadian played and missed outside the off stump. Once more a plausible shout for leg-before went up. Occasionally he shaped with a flourish, only to think better of it. When he did try something extravagant, a pull off the diligent Tom Moody, the ball rocketed down from the bottom edge of his bat and almost removed his own toe-cap.

He met his 26th delivery with the sort of cover drive that would lift the cream clean off a jug of milk. He was off the mark, and steadying himself for the first attempt to prod the throttle of Warwickshire's innings. But a square drive whistling past point represented just about the only note of explicit violence in the 36 practically noiseless runs which he had accumulated when the rain came, postponing his opportunity to add a final return on the investment Warwickshire made in the spring. That pounds 45,000 - repaid in takings before the end of May - now looks like the sporting bargain of all time.

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