Cricket: Essex are overturned

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .241-4

Essex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107

Northamptonshire win by 134 runs

ESSEX'S woeful weekend in the Rose of the Shires was completed on a still evening when Northamptonshire won by 134 runs with 18 overs to spare and, with two games in hand, emphasised their threat to the leaders.

A good crowd turned out despite security men on the gates (when the crime wave hits Wantage Road things are serious). The league's sponsors, AXA Equity and Law, sported a large marquee in Essex's custard colours but the contest was even more one- sided than the Championship match that had finished at tea-time on Saturday with an eight-wicket defeat.

Essex were weakened by having four players with England, further losing a key player in John Stephenson, who needed three stitches in a finger cut by a ball from Curtly Ambrose on Saturday. Mike Garnham played with a badly bruised thumb and the whole demeanour of the side is very different from that in the days when they could raise a smile by merely taking the field.

Derek Pringle bowled six overs for eight runs but the Northamptonshire openers had reached 105 in 25 overs before Alan Fordham played on. From such a start there could be only one winner. Allan Lamb became the second Northamptonshire player, after Wayne Larkins, to pass 5,000 Sunday runs while the crowd were perhaps most pleased by a delightful unbeaten 44 from Russell Warren, 22, Northampton-born and making his Sunday debut. Two sweetly timed leg glances and some thumping drives left a memorable impression.

Lamb did his best to entice Essex by bowling three spinners. When wearing his wide-brimmed maroon hat and dark glasses, he looks as if he might have his collar felt by Don Johnson in Miami Vice but he is in fact leading his team like Eliot Ness.

At 39 for 2 off 13 overs, Essex were competing as Lamb called up Nick Cook who promptly had Saturday's hero, Nadeem Shahid, leg before and Salim Malik stumped two balls later.

By 5 pm, with Jeremy Snape operating, we had an all-spin attack on Sunday, worth a few hosannas at evensong, and an amen when a third, Rob Bailey appeared. Bewildered, Essex subsided and the spinners shared seven wickets.