Cricket: Ratcliffe digs in to steady Warwickshire

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire 125 and 248

Glamorgan 236

SOMEONE suggested that Glamorgan would not know the outcome of Harry Brind's visit to Sophia Gardens until the end of the present Cardiff postal strike. Others know better. The Test and County Cricket Board's Inspector of Pitches arrived, took a close look and apparently ruled that apart from too much grass, the surface passed the test.

Nothing official, at present, but Warwickshire's progress towards setting a quarter-decent last innings target testified to the pitch doctor's verdict. Glamorgan need 138 to win. Jason Ratcliffe, with 68, played a vital role in sustaining the match into the third day, with Dermot Reeve also at his combative best.

Reeve prodded the pitch, keeping the opposition waiting. This was a predictable aspect of an eventful two days in which the latest peripheral events included David Hemp, the Glamorgan batsman, being confined to bed with a throat infection and Vivian Richards' car breaking down, prompting his late arrival.

Nick Wood, 19, last year's Rugby School captain, made an immediate impact as substitute for Hemp with two neat catches at short leg.

Warwickshire, 111 runs behind on the first innings, wobbled at 41 for 3. Ratcliffe, Reeve and Paul Smith were hit on the hands, but batting had an indisciplined touch.

Robert Croft was the first significant exception, making his second Championship half-century this summer, as Glamorgan rose to 236, with 53 extras. Nine byes unfairly reflected Keith Piper's wicketkeeping, which was unerringly athletic, but his batting was disappointing.

Michael Bell, fast left-arm, a rarity nowadays, returned 5 for 83, his second such contribution in consecutive Championship innings. Asif Din also excelled on his first appearance in the competition for 15 months, following a first-innings 35, despite ricking his back, with a sound half-century.

Hugh Morris dropped the sharpest of low catches off Adrian Dale when Din had made six and Ratcliffe, on 19, almost chopped the same bowler on to his stumps. The most remarkable stroke was Piper's when he aimed to leg. The bat flew from his hands and landed in front of first slip with the ball finishing at extra cover.

Warwickshire were just happy to make Glamorgan bat again on a surface which had eased but still looked far from a bladesman's best friend.