Cricket / Sunday League: Ostler stirs slumbering spectators

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Northants 196-7; Warwickshire 183-2

Warwickshire win on faster scoring rate

WHATEVER the dramatic events at Leicester, this pitch should be reported to Lord's for cruelty to spectators. The Sunday League, designed for crowd appeal with crash, bang, wallop and coloured clothing, was all about attrition in this match.

A slow pitch could not be described as 'dangerous' except to anyone trying to stay awake. The game was a cure for insomnia.

That was until the end, when Dominic Ostler reached 68 off 86 balls and Paul Smith scored an even quicker 63 from 64 balls, rising from his curious status as a fringe selection this season.

They added a match-winning, unbroken 132 in 23 overs for the third wicket after seeking successfully a reduced target of 179 from 43 overs with 17 balls to spare. It was Warwickshire's third consecutive Sunday win. Suddenly, Northamptonshire looked dog-eared after previously being third in this competition as well as fourth in the championship and NatWest Trophy quarter-finalists.

They had the worse of the toss, being put in, but an interruption costing six overs barely bothered Robert Bailey, whose 69 from 103 balls expanded his limited overs total to 638 runs at an average of 53 this summer. Something for England's notebooks, except that Bailey, among several others, seems to have been terminally cast aside.

Allan Donald relished removing Allan Lamb's off stump, second ball, and Northamptonshire relied on Nigel Felton, Tony Penberthy, who scored 23 off 16 balls, and David Ripley in their attempt to register an eighth win in nine matches in all competitions.

Donald's 3 for 41 repaid some of his disappointments this and ultimately, it was no contest.

This game could not even produce a thrilling finish, although the stroke play of Ostler and Smith cemented the county's revival with a sixth win in seven matches.

As for Northamptonshire, the return of David Capel will be deferred until towards the end of next month. His forearm, fractured by a ball from Malcolm Marshall last month, is mending, but at least Penberthy has proved a deputy of considerable potential.