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Bad light kills off Bears victory bid; CRICKET.

Byline: Brian Halford

WARWICKSHIRE'S championship tussle with Lancashire ended in the expected draw - but took a much more colourful and controversial route there than expected.

After rain on the third day, the match looked set to peter out on the fourth but the Bears rattled the home side out for 196 to set up a target of 120 from 33 overs (trimmed to 30 by bad light).

It set up an enthralling finish as spinner Simon Kerrigan got among the wickets to even raise Lancashire's hopes of sneaking a win.

But as the thrilling plot approached its conclusion - with the Bears 95 for five, needing 25 from 27 balls, the umpires took the players off for bad light. Varun Chopra and Ateeq Javid didn't seem to be struggling to see the ball. Chopra was past 50 and Javid had just crunched Glen Chapple to the mid-wicket fence when the umpires convened - and directed the players off.

While Lancashire's scuttled back to the pavilion sharpish, Chopra and Javid stayed in the middle, the latter even stepping in front of the motor-covers when the groundstaff tried to get them on, until 20 minutes later the umpires killed the match.

Only in cricket, surely, can the officials spoil a spectacle in such enraging fashion. It's safe to say the Bears were less than impressed but director of cricket Dougie Brown plumped for gritted-teeth diplomacy, postmatch.

"It is disappointing to get so close and not be able to get over the line," he said. "It is pretty raw at the minute but the umpires have got the regulations to apply and we just have to live with that.

"I was happy with the way we went about the chase. It wasn't easy on a fourth-day pitch and you have to give credit to Lancashire who bowled very well and gave nothing away.

"It is frustrating but we take a lot of positives from the match. Our bowlers were superb. They went toe-to-toe with one of the best attacks around and outbowled them."

The Bears did bowl excellently as a unit, especially in the morning session. There were wickets for four bowlers - Keith Barker, Chris Wright, Jeetan Patel and Oliver Hannon-Dalby - while Chris Woakes's input was just as significant, unfurling a string of maidens to build pressure.

Patel maintained that pressure on his way to four for 44, and, after the last six wickets fell for 39 runs in 14 overs, the Bears sensed victory.

Kerrigan then profited from a succession of attacking shots as the Bears gave chase but Chopra's steady hand looked set to steer his team to victory - until the umpires decided enough was enough.

The bemused spectators were left to ponder why on earth floodlights are now deployed in championship cricket if the light they produce is sometimes deemed to be inadequate.

Instead of clarifying the vexed issue of light, they seem to have added to its ability to infuriate.

CAPTION(S):

Bears off spinner Jeetan Patel appeals unsuccessfully for the wicket of Lancashire's Paul Horton on the final day at Old Trafford.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 24, 2014
Words:512
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