Cricket: Radford's riposte

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire 112 & 138-4; Worcestershire 256

HAVING been given a working over in the first half of the day by Curtly Ambrose, Worcestershire's Neal Radford returned the favour as the shadows lengthened across New Road to leave his side in sight of their first Championship win of the season.

Two wickets in six balls, those of Rob Bailey and Allan Lamb, plus the catch at third man to account for the obdurate Alan Fordham, roused a game which had been drifting towards Monday morning.

Northamptonshire had lost only one wicket in moving within 36 runs of wiping out first-innings arrears of 144. Enter Radford. And two runs and three overs later 108 for one had become 110 for four.

Radford's second over did the damage. With the first ball he had Bailey leg before trying to turn a straight full-length delivery off the middle stump. The sixth was edged by Lamb to first slip as he also attempted to play across the line.

When Fordham slashed fiercely at Phil Newport three overs later, Radford was there to clutch at the chance. He had blown a hole in Northamptonshire's first innings by taking the opening three wickets but his captain, Tim Curtis, delayed his entry to the attack this time until the 42nd over.

The delay was partly enforced as nine overs had elapsed before Radford took the field after treatment for thigh and hand injuries inflicted by Ambrose. Perhaps the rest was psychology on the part of his thoughtful skipper.

Radford, 37 a week on Tuesday, had collected his bruises after making the elementary error of square-driving Ambrose for four in an entertaining last wicket stand of 38 with Stuart Lampitt.

The following ball from the West Indian he had to fend off from in front of his face and in the same over he took a painful blow just above the knee. Hardly a duel, more cat and mouse - Ambrose could not stop grinning.

But Radford's gameness and Lampitt's lusty 32 built on a morning of Yorkshire grit. The Bradford-born Steve Rhodes and David Leatherdale chiselled out a 39-run partnership but as importantly denied Northamptonshire the break that would have left the game wide open.

Leatherdale's two-and-a-half hour 41 was the key but it was Radford who finally turned it.