Cricket: Ramprakash delight

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The Independent Online
Middlesex 531 Northamptonshire 216 & 258 Middlesex win by an innings and 57 runs

Mark Ramprakash will be pleased with his first game as the official Middlesex captain. His side picked up the maximum 24 points, his own confidence in his ability to do the job will have increased, and the handover of the captaincy went smoothly.

He is lucky to have taken over from someone like Mike Gatting, who will give him all the help he can without being a threat to him. Of course, Ramprakash still has to prove himself when neither his own nor his side's luck is in and only then will one be able to judge him properly.

While Middlesex left Lord's with their second Championship victory tucked safely into their belts, Northamptonshire must have departed in a far from happy state of mind. Their cricket was a disaster and it was not as if they were up against anything like the best side in the country.

All teams have bad matches, but this was rather more than that. There was something dispiriting about their cricket, as if all is not well in the camp and results like this can start people muttering and factions appearing in the dressing room.

Their last four wickets managed to drag the game 11 balls into the afternoon thanks to some stern resistance from David Capel and David Ripley. Jeremy Snape fought hard for the first 40 minutes too, before he was caught behind playing forward to Angus Fraser.

Capel was eighth out at 224, well caught low at second slip on the front foot to James Hewitt, and shortly before lunch Paul Taylor fenced at Richard Johnson and was caught behind. Ripley's 50 came after the interval but the game ended when David Follett charged down the pitch to Phil Tufnell, who had again bowled well, and was stumped after a fumble by Keith Brown.

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