Warwickshire move closer to treble

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The Independent Online

Warwickshire moved a step closer to their dreams of a second successive treble with a tense victory over Gloucestershire on faster scoring rate in a rearranged Sunday League fixture at Edgbaston.

The NatWest Trophy holders moved up alongside Lancashire in third place and, with two games to play, they are two points behind the joint leaders, Kent and Worcestershire. They batted in drizzle throughout their innings and reached a revised target of 110 in 32 overs with four wickets and 23 balls to spare to capture four points.

It was no easy task on another unreliable Edgbaston pitch and there was a major flutter when they stumbled to 13 for 3 during a spell of 3 for 27 by Jonathan Lewis. But opener Nick Knight survived the problems, reaching an unbeaten 36 off 70 balls, and eventually saw his side home after the umpires had consulted both teams about the deteriorating weather.

At Uxbridge, in a game that neither side wanted to play, Northamptonshire beat Middlesex, again on faster scoring rate. Middlesex, who won the toss, had to endure a shaky start before Mark Ramprakash hit his first Sunday League century of the season, his 103 coming off 118 deliveries and including five fours and three sixes. Mike Gatting had seven fours in his 68 and Middlesex's total of 233 for 6.

Rain took 12 overs out of the visitors' innings, and at 116 for 4 in the 21st over, Northamptonshire's success was by no means assured. But Mal Loye steered his team to victory, as he hit three sixes and two fours in an unbeaten 41, with four balls and six wickets to spare.

The Sunday League's joint-leaders Kent moved into the final of the Tetley Bitter Trophy with a 52-run victory over Durham at Scarborough. The Benson and Hedges Cup finalists amassed 328 for 7 off their 50-over allocation and booked a date with Nottinghamshire in today's final by bowling out Durham for 276 in the 49th over.

n The Hampshire batsman and club captain, Mark Nicholas, is to retire after 18 years with the club. He will be succeeded by the vice-captain, John Stephenson.