West Indies frustrated by Penberthy

Northamptonshire 281 v West Indies
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The Independent Online
With at least two slots in their batting line-up for the first Test still to be decided, this has been a frustrating match for the tourists. Saturday's play was lost to the weather and on a cool but mercifully dry second day yesterday, Northamptonshire kept them in the field throughout.

Considering the start they made, this was a substantial achievement by the current Championship leaders, who were deprived of Allan Lamb and Kevin Curran because of injuries and had excused Anil Kumble so he could attend a wedding at home in India.

They lost Alan Fordham, the victim of a fine catch in the gully, with only a single on the board and were five down for 88 by the 39th over. The most significant runs came from the unlikely source of Tony Penberthy, a journeyman all-rounder who has not made a first-class century since recording his only one so far against Cambridge University five years ago.

Given that record, the left- hander's 73 from 113 balls must presumably rank among his better efforts and was clearly a source of some personal pleasure, particularly when he decided to let fly against Jimmy Adams, pressed into brief bowling duty, and landed a huge hit into the seats above the indoor school.

Penberthy's partnership with Russell Warren for the sixth wicket saved the innings, and a valuable supplement from the bat of Neil Mallender helped the total assume respectability.

The West Indians rested Carl Hooper and their captain, Richie Richardson - an odd decision given his need to discover some form of his own. The intention is presumably to allow Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Keith Arthurton to vie for the number six berth, and for Sherwin Campbell and Stuart Williams to contest the right to open with Hooper. They also omitted Ottis Gibson and both of the Benjamins, the trio from whom one would expect to be chosen the fourth seamer at Headingley to bowl alongside Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Ian Bishop.

In the event, Dhanraj bowled more than a third of the day's overs, raising the thought that Robin Smith, having been recalled for his strength against pace, might be confronted by another bogeyman leg-spinner. However, Dhanraj did not distinguish himself as he was unable to maintain consistent accuracy. His two wickets came at a high price, although it might be noted that three very confident appeals were turned down by umpire Chris Balderstone, including one for a return catch via the boot of Campbell, fielding at silly mid-off to Jeremy Snape.

The positive points for the tourists were the fitness of Walsh, recovered from his back trouble, and a couple of impressive spells by Bishop, who caused more problems than any of his colleagues on a good wicket. Bishop, awaiting his first Test cap for more than two years, had figures of 4 for 40 before Mallender spoiled the analysis with a flurry of late boundaries.

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