Cricket: Curtly has to wait

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire 338-4

v Glamorgan

AFTER a disappointing tour under the blazing sun of the West Indies, Glamorgan's Steve Watkin was back in his element: a damp, overcast Saturday here where his brisk military fast-medium was seen at its best.

Sadly it was seen for only three overs, all maidens, in the first brief spell of play after a light drizzle prevented any action at all before lunch.

When play finally started at 1.25pm, we had a total of only five overs before the rain forced the players off again. The Northamptonshire captain, Allan Lamb, had decided to bat on although it was well into the third day of a four-day game, rain having wiped out the first day altogether. His immediate aim was a fourth batting point, his long-term objective to attempt to bowl Glamorgan out twice in a day and a half. In the event, Northamptonshire added 14 runs to reach 338 for four.

Lamb's tactics may sound a trifle optimistic but he did have two aces up his sleeve. One was the brooding presence of the world's best bowler in the pavilion, having run up rather a large debt to his county and team-mates even at this early stage of the season. Curtly Ambrose's exploits for Northamptonshire have rarely matched his deeds for the West Indies and his failure to arrive in time for the disastrous Benson and Hedges Cup first round tie against Middlesex had done nothing to improve his public image. If he needed any motivation, his undisclosed fine might have provided it.

Lamb also has the benefit of an unexpectedly bouncy track, which he described as one of the quickest he has ever known at Northampton.

This was further confirmed during Ottis Gibson's two overs yesterday. The tall Barbadian, in his first season with Glamorgan, will occasionally be a handful for batsmen - and for his wicketkeeper Colin Metson.

In his second over Gibson bowled one bouncer at Tony Penberthy which was still rising when it cleared Metson, too, on the way to the boundary.

What Ambrose might do on this pitch was a mouth-watering prospect for everyone except Glamorgan's batsmen.