Cricket: Emburey flies in the face of fashion

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire 479 Lancashire 410-8

The weather perked up in Manchester and so did the cricket, although Lancashire spent most of the day painstakingly avoiding the follow-on, an achievement which owed much to Ian Austin's fortune in surviving three dropped catches in an unbeaten 93.

Earlier, attention focussed on a long and engaging duel between the vast experience of Neil Fairbrother and the considerable guile of John Emburey, who even in his 45th year remains as effective an off-spin bowler as any Englishman currently practising what has become an unfashionable trade.

Supplementary to that was the unprecedented - but successful - employment of fast bowler Paul Taylor in the role of left-arm spinner, which brought the Northamptonshire stalwart two of his wickets and much to brag about in the bar.

Emburey, in his second year as player-coach, did not intend to play Championship cricket this summer but had his arm twisted here, as he did at Hove early in the season. Northamptonshire are not exactly awash with bowling talent and wickets such as this remain a temptation.

At times he made the ball deviate extravagantly and there was no keeping count of the number of times he passed the edge of Fairbrother's bat. But while the ball turned it did so only slowly. Although at one point Emburey's figures for the day read 22-15-8-0, a wicket to add to the dismissal of Rob Bailey on Thursday evening eluded him.

Fairbrother ultimately won the argument, lofting the ball high over the ropes in Emburey's 24th over and following it immediately with another four from his trademark square cut. The old fellow shot him a withering stare.

The Lancashire left-hander reached 83 before another cut looped to third man, having shared valuable partnerships with Paddy McKeown (79), Gary Yates (40) and Warren Hegg (45) as the home total edged steadily towards the initial target of 330 to avoid the follow-on.

It was an objective that seemed a long way off when they resumed at 89 for 3, more so, if anything, when Steve Titchard edged to the wicketkeeper with only 10 runs added.

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