Friends Provident Trophy - North: at Edgbaston - Warwickshire 314-5 (T R Ambrose 135, I J L Trott 107 no) v Durham 77-3 (16.2 overs). Warwickshire beat Durham by 39 runs (D/L Method)
Warwickshire supporters have been treated to many fine List A innings at Edgbaston over the years. But very few can have been much better than Tim Ambrose's yesterday.
A century of the highest class helped Warwickshire secure a semi-final place in the Friends Provident Trophy. They now travel to Hampshire next Wednesday. A place in the Lord's final on August 18 awaits the winner.
Superb centuries are becoming a feature of this summer but Ambrose's innings of 135 was a bit special. The statistics are impressive enough. This was, in terms of strike-rate (164.43), the quickest innings of Warwickshire's season, occupying 82 balls and including five sixes and 14 fours. Indeed, his century — reached in 66 balls — is believed to have been the second-quickest (in terms of balls received) in Warwickshire's List A history.
But there are some things statistics can never convey. The power with which Ambrose hit the ball was stunning, while his placement was exceptional. Few play the cut with such power or precision and the regularity with which he found the gaps unerring.
On another day, Jonathan Trott's unbeaten 107 would have taken the plaudits. Certainly, it was a fine innings, occupying 121 deliveries and including 12 fours. Yet such was Ambrose's brilliance that Trott was relegated to a supporting role in the pair's fifth-wicket partnership of 174 in 22 overs.
Trott was on 67 when Ambrose joined him. Yet Warwickshire's wicketkeeper was first to a century, requiring 44 balls for his first 50 and 22 for his second. It was brilliant batting and continued a run that has seen Ambrose score two centuries and two half-centuries in seven limited-overs innings this season.
Ambrose timed the ball well from the start against the spinners. Gareth Breese was lofted for four and deliciously late cut. The ineffective Paul Wiseman was pulled and cut for boundaries and, when the seamers returned, Ambrose cut and pulled Otis Gibson for three boundaries in an over. Graham Onions was smashed for successive sixes over long-on and mid-wicket respectively, while Scott Styris was flicked for another over square leg.
Trott was generally happy to play a supporting role, but his century — 115 balls — was hardly sluggish. He scored the vast majority of his runs through mid-wicket, timing the ball superbly off his legs and pulling anything short with dismissive power.
It was also an eloquent way of making a point. Only two games ago, he was dropped to accommodate Ian Bell, but Trott has responded with two excellent innings in succession.
Warwickshire were somewhat precariously placed when Ambrose and Trott came together at 136 for four in the 28th over. Darren Maddy and Ian Westwood had fallen to successive deliveries, the former beaten by a super delivery that swung in and seamed away, the latter playing-on off a tentative forward prod. Kumar Sangakkara, who has not scored between six and 115 yet in his season of feast or famine, soon edged one angled across him.
But first with Jim Troughton, with whom he added 87 in 15 overs, and then with Ambrose, Trott rebuilt the innings.
Perhaps Durham, who were already assured of a home semi-final, were guilty of some complacency. Their fielding was quite wretched, with several lapses costing boundaries and Trott, on 17, escaping an edge that flew between keeper and slip without either making a move.
But Warwickshire should take credit for another fine performance. They have now won six of seven List A games this year — more than in the entire 2006 season — and approach the semi-final with confidence.
That will be Dale Styen's final game of the season for Warwickshire. Judging by the last few appearances, however, the South African is struggling for rhythm and he was out-bowled by Lee Daggett yesterday.
Although Durham lost Mustard early — slashing to slip — Michael Di Venuto and Will Smith had their side well on track. With clouds gathering and rain minutes away, the game was very much in the balance with Durham only four behind the Duckworth/Lewis target.
Two wickets in successive deliveries effectively settled the game, however. Smith sliced to point and Di Venuto edged one angled across him and, when the rain finally arrived, Warwickshire were deemed victors by 39 runs on the D/L method.
Sangakkara is not certain to play in the semi-final. At present Sri Lanka are requiring his return before the game, though Warwickshire are hopeful a compromise can be reached. If he is unavailable, Paul Harris will come into the side.
HIGHEST SCORES IN LIST A GAMES FOR WARWICKSHIRE
206 Alvin Kallicharran v Oxfordshire, Edgbaston, 1984
151 Nick Knight v Somerset, Edgbaston, 1995
143* Nick Knight v Ireland, Edgbaston, 1998
141* Alvin Kallicharran v Somerset, Taunton, 1982
137* Andy Lloyd v Lancashire, Edgbaston, 1985
137 Asif Din v Somerset, Edgbaston, 1991
137 Ian Bell v Yorkshire, Edgbaston, 2005
135 Tim Ambrose v Durham Edgbaston, 2007
135 Dennis Amiss v Cambridgeshire, Edgbaston, 1982
135 Neil Carter v Scotland, Edgbaston, 2006
Warwickshire have agreed personal terms with 22-year-old South African Vaughn van Jaarsveld, writes George Dobell. Subject to a medical, which is little more than a formality in this case, van Jaarsveld will be a Warwickshire player until the end of the 2009 season.
The left-handed batsman, rated by Paul Harris as the best Twenty20 batsman in South Africa, will come straight into Warwickshire's first-team squad. Van Jaarsveld will be a Kolpak registration, but has reassured Warwickshire that he intends to qualify to play for England. Several other counties were interested in him and his arrival could prove significant; he is a young man with a golden future.