Cricket: Munton seizes the high ground

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The Independent Online
Middlesex 297 and 157-2 Warwickshire 466

TIM MUNTON, whose back problems last year were followed by a hamstring damage earlier this season, looked as fit as a large and somewhat ungainly flea at Lord's yesterday, when he bowled Middlesex into a follow-on.

Although he is without true pace, his height gives him the rib-tickling bounce of a quicker man, and yesterday he confirmed Warwickshire's dominance of the game. In dismissing Chris Batt, strangely named for a man asked to go in after Phil Tufnell, he also denied the hosts a third batting point.

In many other contexts Middlesex's 297, carefully and responsibly compiled for the most part, would have been a perfectly respectable score. Not, however, when it was the response to Brian Lara's magnificent return to form with 226. Middlesex were left 20 short of avoiding the follow-on with a day and a half to go.

Both skippers perished in the second over of a day - Lara on Thursday, Keith Brown yesterday - after which Middlesex's hopes of dignity rested with Paul Weekes. Last season only Tufnell finished below Weekes in the Middlesex batting averages, but this could not have been guessed while watching the left-hander's effort yesterday. He resisted 265 balls, but a snick cheated him of a century.

David Goodchild, only recently preferred to Yorkshireman Richard Kettleborough at the top of the Middlesex order, joined forces with the Australian left- hander, Justin Langer, in making a better fist of the second innings. Goodchild, a correct, tall batsman, recently made a century against Sri Lanka, and followed this with another mature effort yesterday. The opening partnership ended somewhat mysteriously, Langer remaining in his crease while Warwickshire celebrated a delivery from Giles, until he realised that after padding up outside off stump, the ball had cruelly whirled into the wicket. Mike Gatting then joined Goodchild in an attempt to nurse the youngster to a century and the game into a fourth sunny day.

Just before the close, however, Ed Giddins proved too quick for the Middlesex opener and Justin Langer was bowled by Giles for 55.

n Lancashire underlined their title credentials, beating Gloucestershire by an innings and 35 runs at Old Trafford. The spinners Chris Schofield and Gary Yates took four wickets apiece as Gloucestershire collapsed for 193 after following on. The 23-point win lifted Lancashire to third place in the table.