But if this semi-final appeared to be played out in a sombre mood under glowering skies, it disguised some brilliant cricket played in the most trying circumstances on a sub-standard pitch. When play was abandoned with 27 overs unbowled, Warwickshire, with seven wickets in hand, needed 130 runs to beat Northamptonshire.
Like the first Test at Edgbaston, this match was played on a pitch that was completely unsuited to the nature of the occasion - the semi-final of a cup. Here too, there were cracks, as well as clumps of grass to help the ball deviate, and with variable bounce also a factor, bold strokeplay was rarely rewarded with anything other than dismissal.
For Northamptonshire, both Kevin Curran and Russell Warren perished to big shots, Curran paying for a heave across the line at Reeve by having his middle stump uprooted, while Warren allowed wicketkeeper Keith Piper to bring off a brilliant running catch after top-edging a pull shot.
That was one of two quick wickets that fell to Paul Smith and it left the home side at 88 for 6. All the more enterprising, then, their recovery to a final total of 220, which owed much to their No 7, Tim Walton, who oozed class and confidence.
Walton, a 23-year-old Yorkshireman, has not played a County Championship match for his club this season. Indeed, he had not even batted in this year's B&H until yesterday. If he was rusty, it did not show, and his unbeaten 70 took 73 balls, including two sixes.
His certainty at the crease was remarkable for one so inexperienced. His partnership of 108 in 106 balls with Tony Penberthywas crucial in setting up the whole match. Without it, the pressure on Ambrose to perform the demolition would have proved too great and Warwickshire might have won before rain ended play early.
As it was, although the West Indian was some way short of his lethal best, and Warwickshire - without Nick Knight, who ironically broke his finger at Edgbaston - got off to a brisk start, with Neil Smith striking several boundaries. However, it was Ambrose, this time at slip, who made the breakthrough as Smith edged a slash off Paul Taylor.
It was Taylor, too, who also removed the visitors' second pinch-hitter, Dougie Brown, for a duck. Andy Moles followed soon after, cutting Kevin Curran to cover, after one of the many breaks for bad light and rain, to leave the visitors on 61 for 3.
At that point the game was evenly poised but, with Paul Smith smashing his first two balls for four, the balance shifted Warwickshire's way. On a pitch as fickle as this, that advantage may be only fleeting.
Warwickshire won toss
D J Capel c Piper b Brown 7
R R Montgomerie c Giles b P A Smith 49
*R J Bailey b Welch 10
M B Loye run out 1
K M Curran b Reeve 3
R J Warren c Piper b P A Smith 10
T C Walton not out 70
A L Penberthy c Brown b Pollock 41
J E Emburey not out 2
Extras (lb8 w11 nb8) 27
Total (for 7, 50 overs) 220
Fall: 1-15 2-42 3-58 4-69 5-83 6-88 7-196.
Did not bat: C E L Ambrose, J P Taylor.
Score at 15 overs: 42 for 2.
Bowling: Pollock 10-2-41-1; Brown 10-1-46-1; Welch 10-1-32-1; Reeve 10- 2-30-1; P A Smith 9-0-56-2; N M K Smith 1-0-7-0.
A J Moles c Penberthy b Curran 33
N M K Smith c Ambrose b Taylor 15
D R Brown b Taylor 0
D P Ostler not out 18
P A Smith not out 18
Extras (lb6 w1) 7
Total (for 3, 23.2 overs) 91
Fall: 1-34 2-36 3-61.
To bat: T L Penney, S M Pollock, *D A Reeve, G Welch, K J Piper, A F Giles.
Score at 15 overs: 53 for 2.
Bowling (to date): Ambrose 6-0-20-0; Taylor 7-1-18-2; Capel 6-0-20-0; Curran 4.2-0-27-1.
Umpires: J C Balderstone and J H Hampshire.Reuse content