Taylor's bat adds to mismatch

Durham 148 and 68-0 Northamptonshire 492-5 dec
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The Independent Online
Slaughter in the sun. Men against boys. You could take your pick of apposite phrases to describe the cricket here yesterday, the upshot of which is that Northamptonshire are poised to take maximum advantage of Warwickshire's absence from this round of Championship fixtures and put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.

This has been a mismatch in almost every respect, Durham managing to compete no more effectively with the ball than they had with the bat on Thursday. Northamptonshire, a run behind overnight, lost only three wickets during two and a half sessions yesterday before declaring with a first-innings lead of 344.

Rob Bailey's 132 was the fulcrum, a splendid, measured innings spanning five and a half hours, in which he seldom looked anything but serene until a weary pull eventually allowed Manoj Prabhakar to claim his wicket, caught at square leg off a steepling top edge.

Two others deserved a three figure score, in particular Paul Taylor, a left-arm seamer twice capped by England in his primary role. Taylor's one success with the ball on Thursday raised his tally of first-class wickets of the season to 50 - but this was his first for months, during which time he has twice made 50 or more with the bat, on each occasion as night-watchman. Here, having seen out the last few balls on Thursday evening, he outscored Bailey for a time and reaped the benefit of being dropped twice in the low 60s. At 74 he equalled his previous best and, playing strokes not normally seen in a tail-ender's repertoire, must have seen himself standing post-match drinks until, 14 short, he drove David Cox straight to extra cover.

Allan Lamb also missed an opportunity that might not come round again when he was lbw to the first ball after tea, having scored 97 off 93 balls.

Having made 88 first-class centuries, the 41-year-old captain was treading territory more familiar than his colleague but had he not failed to finish the job he would have completed the full set of a first-class centuries against every county except his own.

Lamb's wicket was a first in the Championship for Neil Killeen, the England Under-19 seamer discovered in the Tyneside League. Durham ended the day with Wayne Larkins and Stewart Hutton surviving 19 overs with their wickets intact, but 276 more runs are needed before Northamptonshire have to bat again.