Cricket: Lara and company in a league of their own

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire 294-6; Nottinghamshire 222-9. Warwickshire win by 72 runs

JUST for once, there was an anti-climax when Brian Lara, the double world record holder, walked to the crease yesterday. Warwickshire, put in, plundered their first 50 runs without loss from only 39 balls en route to their biggest 40- over total at this ground. They retained a four-point lead in the Sunday League over Worcestershire, who have a match in hand.

In contrast, Nottinghamshire took 88 balls to reach a half-century and by then had lost two wickets. A one-sided game was settled as simply as that. Warwickshire were in a different league, even before Lara arrived at 92 for 1 in the 12th over.

He made the slowest of starts before accelerating to 75, his best limited-overs score for Warwickshire, from 72 balls, with five fours and three sixes. He shared a third-wicket partnership of 121 in 18 overs with Roger Twose to cast aside Nottinghamshire, whose redemption was the left-arm spin of Jimmy Adams and, later, a resolute 76 from 102 balls by Tim Robinson.

Dominic Ostler's half-century from 44 balls was 10 deliveries quicker than Lara's. Mike Field-Buss, the off-spinner, was dispatched for 10 an over, suffering from a first spell against the openers, Ostler and the equally purposeful Neil Smith, and returning to bowl to Lara.

Warwickshire preferred Richard Davis, a left-arm spinner, to Andy Moles, still to play a Sunday game this summer but with a match-winning hundred in the NatWest Trophy semi-final last week. It meant they had seven bowlers available, as well as batting depth.

Both factors made Nottinghamshire look sadly impoverished in one-day terms, though they are commanding in the four-day game. Paul Johnson fell short of a half-century after a brisk and entertaining innings but Warwickshire, like the champions they intend to be, field like demons.

Keith Piper, an England A wicketkeeping candidate for the forthcoming tour of India, set the standard and sprinted 30 yards to hold an over-the-shoulder, diving catch to dismiss Johnson. Few have been better this summer.

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