Northants edge closer in the rain

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The Independent Online
reports from Northampton

Derbyshire 98 & 210-7 Northamptonshire 210

Events unfolded almost as dramatically off the field as they did on it at Wantage Road yesterday. While the weather which claimed 47 overs was the only factor to hold up Curtly Ambrose and postpone Northamptonshire's first Championship victory of the season, Harry Brind and Donald Carr arrived from Lord's to inspect the troublesome pitch.

Once again the uneven bounce was exaggerated, as it always will be, by Ambrose although it was the fear of what might happen rather than what actually did happen that caused most of the wickets to fall.

There was a twist to the story of the pitch when it was revealed that Carr, the chairman of the pitches committee at Lord's, had made a routine visit to the ground last Wednesday.

While there, he was asked his view of the two pitches available for this match. He said he thought the one which had already been used for Tuesday's NatWest Trophy looked the better of the two and would be less likely to produce a clatter of wickets. This was either a most damning comment on the state of the square as a whole or one of those judgements that have a habit of returning to haunt cricket administrators.

The first arrival yesterday was Brind, the inspector of pitches who automatically becomes involved if 15 or more wickets fall in a day's Championship cricket. He inspected the surface but his thoughts and suggestions will not be revealed until the match is over.

He was followed after lunch by a return visit from Carr who drove up the M1 to make sure that his eyes had not deceived him on Wednesday. He will also remain silent until the game has finished.

Derbyshire again made a bad start when play began at 2.15 after rain. In the first 10 overs they lost both openers to slip catches off Ambrose and Paul Taylor. This brought together Chris Adam and Dean Jones in Derbyshire's first stand of real substance in the match.

Adams pulled vigorously at anything at all short and when the ball was pitched up he once or twice pulled or slogged it away over mid-wicket. He reached 50 in 512 balls with one six and seven fours while Jones made sure the other end was safe. They had put on 92 when John Emburey made one turn and lift in the over before tea and Jones was out to a juggling catch at short leg.

After tea, Ambrose claimed 3 for 7 in a fiercely hostile spell of 22 balls including Adams who played on. It was left to Phillip DeFreitas and Karl Krikken to lift Derbyshire's lead to 98 with bad light and rain claiming six of the last 10 overs.