Ambrose hot streak continues
Tim Ambrose joined the queue of potential England wicket-keepers with an unbeaten 251 as Warwickshire turned the screw on neighbouring Worcestershire in the LV County Championship at New Road.
A six-and-a-half hour innings brought 34 boundaries from 325 balls and carried his side to a massive 610 for six before Darren Maddy’s mid-afternoon declaration set the home side to score 461 just to avoid the follow-on.
Maddy immediately claimed a good catch at second slip to send Phil Jaques packing for a duck in Dale Steyn’s second over and Ambrose got in on the act again by leaping to his right to hold an edge from Vikram Solanki (35).
Stephen Moore, unbeaten on 46 after 43 overs, and Ben Smith (21 not out) then dug in until the close when Worcestershire, on 116 for two, were still 494 behind.
Having reached the highest Championship score by a wicket-keeper for 10 years, Australian-born Ambrose has been dismissed only twice while piling up 570 runs from six innings in all competitions this season.
Such prolific form is bound to stir interest in high places but England’s new coach, Peter Moores, does not need to be reminded of his ability.
When Moores was in charge of Sussex for their first-ever County Championship triumph in 2003, Ambrose and Matt Prior were regulars in the team, both averaging 40 or more with the bat, but had to compete for the wicket-keeping gloves.
Ultimately this was one of the reasons for Ambrose’s departure to Edgbaston last year and now a rivalry that began on the south coast could be reopened at international level.
When England named a High Performance squad last week, Prior and Paul Nixon were the only keepers to be included - but a continuation of Ambrose’s form could put him in contention at some stage.
Warwickshire’s all-time record score by a
wicket-keeper – 254 by Geoff Humpage against Lancashire at Southport in 1982 – was tantalisingly close at the declaration but other milestones were passed in his destruction of a lightweight Worcestershire attack.
Warwickshire achieved their highest total at New Road in 67 first-class matches since 1899 and a new partnership record for the county’s sixth wicket was established when Ambrose put on 226 with Heath Streak.
They beat the 220 scored by Tom Dollery and Jack Buckingham against Derbyshire in 1938 before Streak was caught at mid-wicket off Solanki after making 66 from 171 balls.
This was the only wicket to fall in moving on from the overnight 385 for five, though Ambrose did survive a stumping chance off Solanki when he was on 175.