Cricket: Taylor sows seeds: Northamptonshire rely on lower order: Mike Carey reports from Northampton

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire 238; Surrey 79-4

THESE days Northamptonshire are the best of teams and the worst of teams. They could do with a win here to re-establish some faith in themselves, but it was not until Curtly Ambrose and Paul Taylor entered the fray that they started to look like genuine competitors yesterday.

Their batting was very iffy, even allowing for the greenish, damp and occasionally variable pitch that persuaded Surrey to bowl first, which they mostly did very well. Not many sides have removed Alan Fordham, Rob Bailey and Allan Lamb for less than 50 between them and that was probably the key to their struggle.

Nigel Felton explored more remote parts of the bat than usual after being missed at slip off Waqar Younis, whose opening spell was penetrative but unremarkable, until Lamb appeared. It was their first confrontation since Lamb's allegations last year of ball-tampering (for which he was fined rather more by the TCCB than those who have been found guilty of it). There was a certain quickening of pace, a couple of bouncers (the second, of course, illegal) and maybe a brief exchange of views at the end of Waqar's follow-through.

Soon afterwards, to his disgust, Lamb steered a comfortable catch to gully off Mark Butcher's medium pace which, though less demanding, probably allowed him more movement than most on this pitch. After he had Mal Loye leg before to a ball reckoned not to be missing leg stump, not even Kevin Curran's dashing, some might say frantic, 41 from 31 balls could alter the course of events.

That was left to Ambrose, who soon produced an excellent ball to have Paul Atkins caught behind, and Taylor, who removed Darren Bicknell, Monte Lynch and Alistair Brown.