ALLAN LAMB is suspended and Curtly Ambrose has a swollen knee so the NatWest finalists, Northamptonshire, are without their principal players. Yesterday they did not play with the urgency of a team still fancying their chances of the Championship from their third place.
If, in fact, all the others but Kent have already awarded Essex another pennant it would be no more than an apt finale to what has been a fairly pathetic competition. For Essex to win again, as they surely will in a few more hours, after some of their results this summer, indicates the generally poor standard of county cricket, reflected worryingly in many attendances. Even here, once a magnet for spectators, crowds are dwindling. The Festival is expected to lose pounds 12,000, not a huge sum and covered by sponsorships, but festivals are supposed to make hay for lean winters.
Yorkshire still managed to attract 3,500 on a sunny but windy day, batting without great distinction on a blotting-paper pitch. Simon Kellett reached the nineties for the third time this season, prodding nervously when he needed only another four; his 1,200 first-class runs should bring him his county cap. He also lifted Nick Cook high over the sightscreen, the ball bouncing between two ladies deep in conversation. It could have cracked either skull but, hardly missing a word, one picked the ball from where it had lodged in the screen, calmly returned it to the field before resuming the gossip; obviously Yorkshirewomen.
Their team, not unusually, fell from high estate. An opening stand of 140, in 53 overs, ended when Martyn Moxon scooped to second slip; after Kellett had departed the innings all but seized up, although Ashley Metcalfe did brighten the afternoon with three pulled leg-side boundaries. To be fair, Rob Bailey did not allow the Cobblers to cruise. His seamers kept a good line, but Yorkshire should really have made much more of this opportunity.
Richard Blakey was run out when Paul Taylor deflected Craig White's drive on to the stumps, but the day was saved for the crowd when White and David Byas took 15 off the 100th over for a fourth point. White was unluckily run out within sight of a half-century.
The committee insists it needs a bowler to replace Sachin Tendulkar. The reasoning behind this is that Yorkshire have three times been in a winning position without being able to finish off the opposition. Another fast bowler should do the trick.
But where is there such a bowler? The argument has now gone on for so long the club seems likely to finish up with whoever is not wanted by those counties, principally Worcestershire, who are still in the market. Three names are under consideration, but not one of them is likely to command Yorkshire TV's sponsorship.Reuse content