Cricket: Lamb's unlikely support

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The Independent Online
Northants 467; Leicestershire 173-2

TO the outsider, to whom a local derby might mean Arsenal v Spurs or the Roses match, this meeting is not a contest men would live and die for, yet it is a vital part of English cricket. And Allan Lamb, that now quintessential country squire - green wellies, Barbours, huntin', shootin' and fishin' - would not concede the hope of a first Championship easily.

Lamb hit his second century of the summer yesterday, a misleading statistic in itself for by the time Lamb has usually arrived at the crease his job has been to mow down a wilting attack as quickly as possible.

With only Nigel Felton making a substantial score on this friendly surface, this time Lamb has been able to pitch his tent. Not out 75 overnight he led the tail through another bright, cold morning to add another 133 runs in 35 overs in which his partners either blocked or swung while Lamb, until Nos 10 and 11 arrived, simply picked off the loose ball with a sniper's accuracy.

His 100 arrived off 179 balls, his 150 off 227 and his 162 were scored off 246. Only towards the end did he permit himself a few entertaining histrionics; he aimed to pull Alan Mullally into the old football covered terrace, got the thickest of edges and saw the ball drop over the boards at third man. He intended further carnage after lunch but a relieved Mullally got a straight ball under another huge pull.

The plan was then to carve into the Leicestershire innings amd it might have succeeded had not Tim Boon been put down at slip off Curtly Ambrose when seven. Peter Hepworth was pinned by Mark Bowen's second ball before yet another Yorkshireman arrived, James Whitaker, and although Lamb called upon six bowlers up to tea, including the leg-spinner Andy Roberts, they were unrewarded until Paul Taylor began an evening spell from the football end in fading light.

Whitaker was dropped at second slip, when 42, but two runs later, given a second chance, Malachy Loye took the catch.