Cricket: Moles surfaces slowly

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire 409-7 dec

Warwickshire 210-6

FEW English batsmen with more than 10,000 career runs averaged in excess of 40 but Andy Moles proved exactly why he is among that elite with a recuperative innings for Warwickshire yesterday.

Moles, a brick out-house of an opener in reliability as well as physique, batted throughout a tediousday, shorn of 22 overs through four rain interrruptions, for 85 not out from 256 balls in just over five and a quarter hours.

His winter plans focus on a coaching trip to Argentina as a variation on visits to South Africa where Moles has scored two of the three double-hundreds of his career. For the present, Moles is battling to save this game, whose pace resembles that of Constable's Haywain. This contest would be stuck in a rut as well, except that Graeme Hick took three Warwickshire wickets in five overs during the evening and Warwickshire still need 50 to avoid the follow-on with four wickets intact.

As an advertisement for four-day cricket, this match is a non-starter. Mutterings from members about 'filling in the time' had much credence, with a tempo of two-and-a- half runs an over for three days.

Nick and Block would be sound opening partners. Occupy the crease as long as possible in the first innings and then drain the life out of those batting second. This has been the formula at New Road, but thankfully spin, or rather slow bowling, has enjoyed a fling.

Dermot Reeve did, too, with two sixes and a four off three consecutive balls from Hick before he eventually darted down the pitch with an angled bat and was stumped.

This pitch remains one on which the odd ball keeps low, another lifts and some turn slowly. It is not entirely trustworthy as its eighth day of scheduled use looms today, following the Nottinghamshire game last week.

Moles spent three and a half hours compiling a half-century but he has advanced beyond 1,300 runs this summer, and now faces another challenge to sustain the innings beyond 259 this morning. Typically, Warwickshire's batsmen mostly reached the 20s but permanence was a different matter.

With this in mind, Chris Broad, late of Nottinghamshire, is interesting them and the name of Bill Athey, newly departed from Gloucestershire, will also be mentioned in the annual contracts meeting at Edgbaston on Monday.