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BEARS' YB40 HOPES HANG BY A THREAD; YB40 CRICKET.

WARWICKSHIRE'S hopes of reaching the YB40 semi-finals hang by a thread after they became the fall guys for Northamptonshire's first home victory in one-day cricket in two years.

After two defeats and a washout, the Bears travelled to Wantage Road eyeing a chance to get their season going against one of the weaker sides in the group.

And they were in with a good chance after restricting Northamptonshire to 229, thanks largely to Boyd Rankin's spell of 8-2-18-1. But a wretched start, in which they limped to 12 for three, gave them too much ground to make up.

Rikki Clarke hit 65 (76 balls) but when he was superbly stumped, the lower order had to find 90 at ten per over. Unsurprisingly, they didn't come close.

All out for 193 and beaten by 36 runs, the Bears will travel to Sussex for a floodlit match on Thursday knowing that, with the group stage barely underway, they already have almost no more margin for error.

Northamptonshire's 229 was the product of mixed batting against mixed bowling.

With Chris Woakes nursing a sore shoulder, Clarke and Chris Wright shared the new ball but the home side started fluently and reached 61 in ten overs.

Ateeq Javid was into the firing line for the ninth over, and bowled well enough, removing Kyle Coetzer caught behind, but it was Rankin who reeled in the scoring-rate.

His first six overs, aggressive and accurate, cost eight runs.

Rankin's excellence, not matched by all as illustrated by 16 wides and no balls, put the Bears on top.

But the innings was spectacularly yanked out of drift when Matt Spriegel and Steven Crook clobbered 42 from two overs, the 31st and 32nd, from Javid and Stef Piolet.

Warwickshire were delighted to see Spriegel depart after a running mix-up in the next over, after which the innings returned to scrappy mode. Scrappy would be a kind way to describe the start of the Bears innings.

Two wickets fell in the second over as Varun Chopra fell lbw for his fourth score under five in five innings, and Jim Troughton lifted to point.

The last thing required at that stage was a spot of self-destruction but that's what followed when Tim Ambrose chose to run on a misfield and was beaten by Alex Wakeley's direct hit.

In recent seasons, even at 12 for three, you wouldn't have written the Bears off.

Bearing in mind their recent fragility, however, this was a huge test. They failed it.

Will Porterfield (47, 72 balls) and Clarke retrenched with a stand of 101 in 19 overs but the former, closing in on his first halfcentury in 13 attempts since Abu Dhabi, was caught at point.

Darren Maddy, looking out of sorts, quickly perished to leave the onus squarely on Clarke and when he fell, only some spirited lastwicket blows from Javid and Rankin delayed the defeat.

That fragility remains a huge concern. One of the specialist batsmen - at least one - needs to do something inspiring at Hove to bolster that brittle confidence.

CAPTION(S):

STAR TURN: Warwickshire's Rikki Clarke hits the ball towards the boundary at the County Ground.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 28, 2013
Words:525
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