Lamb finds flaw as Northants stay top

Northants 321 & 312 Gloucs 293 & 131 Northants win by 209 runs
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The Independent Online
Allan Lamb, that shrewd cookie, makes no promises about Northamptonshire taking their first Championship title, because a third consecutive win did have a batting flaw. They remain leaders, despite the ongoing threat of Middlesex, on whom the shrewd money is going, to lift the trophy.

It may have taken only three overs to dispatch the last two Gloucestershire batsmen but Lamb, the captain, was disappointed that his team did not make a higher first-innings total on an edge-of-the-square pitch, one of only 10 in 13 available for use at the ground this summer.

"Our great asset is still self-belief," Lamb said. "We have won tight matches and can succeed from any situation. We have played as a side, not as individuals.

"Anil Kumble has captured 82 wickets, Paul Taylor 50-odd, David Capel 40-odd, and it's also about bits and pieces efforts."

Northamptonshire are aiming at two titles and had a thankfully early departure for the NatWest Trophy semi-final against Yorkshire at Headingley today.

When Shane Warne, the Australian, was unavailable to become their overseas player this season, Lamb recommended Kumble, another Test leg spinner from India. "Not many people had really heard of him but I had. I was his first Test victim, at Old Trafford. He has taken a lot of wickets for us through bat-pad catches and also at the wicket." It has added a second meaning to an Indian summer.

Northamptonshire have lost only to Glamorgan at Cardiff and to Lancashire at Old Trafford. They have won five games at Northampton, drawing the other two, and gave Gloucestershire short shrift on the last day.

Kamran Sheeraz drove a catch to cover and Vyvian Pike was taken at the wicket in Taylor's second over, completing his figures of 4 for 17. Taylor is continuing to nurse a groin strain but will keep playing. Lamb confesses to having his prayer mat out. Northamptonshire have no game starting on Thursday and will scan the skies optimistically for distant rain clouds at Trent Bridge, Lord's and Old Trafford where Warwickshire, Middlesex and Lancashire plan to sustain their own ambitions.