Wasim tears the leaders apart

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The Independent Online


reports from Old Trafford

Lancashire 437 & 280 for 9 dec Northamptonshire 290 & 194 Lancashire win by 233 runs

Northamptonshire found themselves on a long road, albeit one with plenty of turning, here yesterday and were emphatically beaten by 233 runs. They were undone, though, not so much by Lancashire's spin bowlers as by the pace and swing and at times the sheer hostility of Wasim Akram.

Wasim took seven wickets for 73, emerging with 10 from the match. Whether with the new ball or the old, it was high class, controlled, aggressive stuff. He had batsmen by the throat, all too literally at times, and never let them go.

Northamptonshire had been set a strictly notional target of 428, well out of the question in the fourth innings on a turning pitch. Against some sides, they might have fancied their chances of grinding it out all day to save the game if a couple of batsmen could have established themselves, but that was never on, either.

Wasim saw to that. Operating over or round the wicket, swinging the ball both ways and going jubilantly through his repertoire of bouncers, yorkers and short-of-a-length bowling which hit the gloves or the rib-cage, he passed most bats and hit several bodies.

Faced with all this, and with Mike Watkinson and Gary Keedy discovering an increasing amount of turn and bounce at the other end, Northamptonshire needed both a decent start to the day and a large amount of good fortune, and neither was forthcoming.

The ball was still new and hard enough initially for the diminutive nightwatchman, Andy Roberts, to have more problems than most against Wasim, who he could only fend off into backward short-leg's hands in the third over.

Alan Fordham, again attracting a fair amount of bowling which could be negotiated only with some trepidation of the back foot, was eventually well caught down the leg side by Warren Hegg, off the faintest of bouncers, with Wasim himself joining the chorus of appeals somewhat belatedly, it seemed.

Even the usually redoubtable Rob Bailey, having survived a penetrative spell by Glen Chapple, was given a going-over by Wasim. First he hit him in the ribs, then beat him with two out-swingers before bringing one back the other way to win a leg-before decision.