Pitch cancels Lamb's equation

Cricket: Northamptonshire 479 & 238-6 dec Middlesex 351-4 dec & 277-6 Match drawn
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Northamptonshire 479 & 238-6 dec Middlesex 351-4 dec & 277-6 Match drawn

In the end, Northamptonshire probably came closer to victory than Middlesex. But on this flat, easy-paced pitch and with so much to do on the last day, a definite result was always unlikely. The Middlesex target of 367 in 55 overs was formidable and, led by Paul Weekes with 127 not out, they fought as long as they reasonably could.

At 240 for 6 with 13 overs left, they realised victory was no longer a possibility and Weekes and Dion Nash, surrounded by close fielders, kept the Northamptonshire spinners out.

Provided Northamptonshire's batsmen did not collapse in the first part of the day, the final balancing of the equation lay in the hands of Allan Lamb. He knew he had little or no hope, Anil Kumble or not, of bowling Middlesex out in less than two sessions on this pitch.

He will also have been well aware that, after Warwickshire's win, Middlesex had to go flat out for victory. Middlesex will claim the target was ungenerous, but they got such a good start that anything less might not have been too much of a problem. What Lamb had to try to organise was for his bowlers to take wickets while giving away runs so Middlesex would be kept interested.

That way Northamptonshire might have snatched an extraordinary victory. As it was Middlesex had no option but to give up serious thoughts of victory.

Northamptonshire batted on for more than eight overs after lunch before declaring and this allowed Rob Bailey to complete his second 100 in the match for the first time in his career.

Middlesex were then given an ideal start by Jason Pooley and Weekes with the 50 coming up in the ninth over and the 100 in the 17th. Then Pooley was caught behind off Kumble and Middlesex were 126 off 24 overs.

Mark Ramprakash failed, which was a major blow for Middlesex, when he was run out by Alan Fordham. Mike Gatting was then at his most purposeful, sweeping and driving.

The 200 came up in the 35th over but one run later Gatting was run out by Paul Taylor. John Carr then pushed Jeremy Snape to midwicket and Keith Brown was soon caught behind off Snape and, when Emburey was caught at short leg off bat and pad against Kumble, the challenge had gone and in the end only Warwickshire were happy.

Scoreboard, NatWest Trophy final preview, page 23