Streak revels in return to day job

Northamptonshire 329 and 280 Warwickshire 524 and 88-2 Warwickshire win by 8 wkts
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The Independent Online

It is reasonable to assume that most people would be stumped if asked to describe the link between Heath Streak and the Reverend Archibald Fargus, who played for Gloucestershire at the turn of the last century. Indeed, until yesterday it did not exist. But that all changed when the former Zimbabwe captain continued his extraordinary debut for Warwickshire with seven second-innings wickets as his new side defeated Northamptonshire by eight wickets to stay clear of Kent in the Championship table.

It is reasonable to assume that most people would be stumped if asked to describe the link between Heath Streak and the Reverend Archibald Fargus, who played for Gloucestershire at the turn of the last century. Indeed, until yesterday it did not exist. But that all changed when the former Zimbabwe captain continued his extraordinary debut for Warwickshire with seven second-innings wickets as his new side defeated Northamptonshire by eight wickets to stay clear of Kent in the Championship table.

Figures of 6 for 78 gave Streak a match return of 13 for 158, from which arises the connection with Rev Fargus. Until yesterday, the Reverend's 12 for 87 against Middlesex at Lord's in June 1900 had stood as the best analysis by a county debutant in the history of the Championship. It was a record he took to the grave when he died in Bristol in 1963, aged 84.

For Streak, at the centre of the boycott by 15 white players of the Zimbabwe cricket team, to be making statistical rather than political headlines is a welcome change. Sacked as captain after criticising selection policy - last night he welcomed the International Cricket Council's promise to investigate claims of discrimination - he is happy simply to be playing cricket, having not appeared in a first-class match since the start of May.

"It is just fantastic to be on the field playing rather than be thinking about politics," he said. Bruising to his stomach will force him to miss today's Totesport League match against Lancashire but he should be fit to face Northamptonshire again in the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy quarter-final on Wednesday.

Launching his three-month engagement as Warwickshire's second overseas player in such spectacular fashion came as an unexpected bonus. Although, in his last domestic match in Zimbabwe, playing for Matebeleland against Mashonaland in Bulawayo in April, he had a career-best 7 for 55 within a match haul of 11 for 104, the only other 10-wicket match return in his career to date. Streak joins a side collectively in record-setting mode, having posted first-innings totals of 405 and above in five consecutive matches, a feat not previously achieved in the county's history.

He took four of the six Northamptonshire wickets to fall yesterday. He broke a promising fifth-wicket partnership of 75 by dismissing Graeme Swann with a "grubber" with the visitors just six runs in front. A brilliant, tumbling catch by Jonathan Trott at deep square-leg off Neil Carter's bowling removed Northamptonshire's most dangerous batsman, captain David Sales, for 76.

The 30-year-old new boy then removed Johann Louw, Ben Phillips and Steffan Jones in the space of 14 deliveries before Nick Knight's direct hit from mid-on ran out Gerard Brophy. Knight then continued his impressive run with the bat - he has 854 runs in his last seven innings - with an unbeaten 56 as Warwickshire knocked off the 86 needed for victory.

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