County Championship: Tim Ambrose stars as Warwickshire beat Nottinghamshire
Last Updated: 02/07/14 6:31pm
Former England wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose hit 82 not out as Warwickshire completed a remarkable three-wicket comeback victory over Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston.
Ambrose batted 55 overs and shared an important fifth-wicket stand of 108 with Sam Hain (63) to steer Warwickshire to a tough target of 289 and a triumph that appeared unlikely for most of the first two days.
Warwickshire conceded 146 in the first session of the match and were in danger of following on for most of their first innings.
But Nottinghamshire's lack of lower-order runs in both innings proved costly and allowed Warwickshire to seal their fourth win of the season, which revived their title challenge after a heavy defeat by Yorkshire last week.
The visitors, who began the match as joint leaders, moved eight points clear of Yorkshire, who sat out this round of matches, but they have now played one match more than their nearest rivals.
Warwickshire needed 28 with three wickets intact at tea, and Nottinghamshire took the new ball immediately after the interval in an attempt to dislodge Ambrose.
Instead he upper-cut Peter Siddle for six and saw Warwickshire home with 25.2 overs to spare in an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 55 with Keith Barker (23 not out).
Eoin Morgan's 81 not out from 95 balls was the only highlight for a sparse last day crowd at Lord's as Middlesex had to be content with a draw against bottom-of-the-table Northamptonshire.
Set 304 to win in a minimum of 56 overs, after Middlesex's second-innings declaration half an hour after lunch on 199 for five, Northants made no attempt to go for the runs and instead batted out time on 82-3.
The visitors, who take 10 points from the game, will be happy simply to avoid defeat for only the second time in nine championship matches this season.
Middlesex earned 12 points, but will be frustrated as they needed victory to close a significant gap between themselves in mid-table and the division's pace-setters.
Morgan came to the crease in the third over of the day and went to his 50 from 63 balls and, with Joe Simpson, kept up the forward momentum after lunch as 48 runs came in seven overs.
Perhaps Middlesex could have declared a little earlier, but it was soon clear that the pitch conditions were still excellent for batting and that taking 10 Northants wickets in the time remaining - or nine if broken finger victim Rob Keogh did not bat - would be a tall order.
Stephen Peters and James Kettleborough did fall to the new ball, leaving Northants 29-2, with Peters clipping Steven Finn to a short square-leg on 11 and Kettleborough losing his off stump as he shouldered arms to one from Tim Murtagh that nipped back down the Lord's slope.
But there were few further alarms, despite Middlebrook's 26-over 22 ending with an edge to Morgan at first slip off Toby Roland-Jones. Matt Spriegel resisted for 104 balls to end on 29 not out and when hands were shaken, with 10 overs unbowled, Rob Newton was unbeaten on nine from 65 balls.
A fighting half-century from Steven Croft and a brave, unbeaten 41 from Paul Horton guided Lancashire to a draw on the final day against Somerset at Taunton.
The visitors were 251-5 in their second innings in the Division One match, leading by 33 runs, when the players shook hands at 5pm, with Croft 59 not out.
Horton, who came in at number seven, having been forced to retire hurt on one after a blow on the head from an Alfonso Thomas bouncer when opening the innings the previous evening, faced 117 balls to help his partner save the game.
Thomas claimed 3-35 from 21 overs with his seamers, while left-arm spinner George Dockrell returned two for 70 from 40 overs.There were three catches and a stumping for Craig Kieswetter on the day he put pen to paper on a new three-year Somerset contract.
But the only winner in the end was a slow, dry pitch as Somerset collected 11 points and Lancashire nine.
After the game Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick said "We are disappointed because we felt the chance was there to win the game. As it turned out the pitch was too slow for the seamers to make much of a contribution and we had to rely heavily on George Dockrell.
"It hasn't worked out for us, but I felt we played consistently well with bat and ball throughout the match."
Lancashire captain Glen Chapple paid tribute to Horton, saying: "Paul was pretty groggy last night and perhaps a bit worse than we expected him to be this morning. That's why the decision was taken to bat him at seven.
"We could have done with more first innings runs, but we are playing good cricket and have some teams above us in the table in our sights."