Unsung hero makes most of rare chance
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Tim Walton (Northamptonshire)
Whatever happens when Northamptonshire engage Lancashire in the Benson and Hedges Cup at Lord's on 13 July, they will be obliged to reflect that but for the deeds of one Tim Walton they would not have been there at all.
Tim Who? is the obvious question, given that the 23-year-old Leeds-born member of the County ground staff seems rarely to be let out other than on Sundays.
However, those with an interest in knock-out semi-finals in general and Northamptonshire in particular will be aware that Walton's latest, rare, chance to make an impression was highly significant, earning him more credit than anyone for denying the holders, Warwickshire, the opportunity to retain their trophy.
Not only did he rescue the Northamptonshire innings from impending doom at 88 for 6 with a powerful unbeaten 70, he then pulled the rug from under Warwickshire's apparently comfortable pursuit of a modest 221 to win with two excellent run-outs.
Each was the result of a fast and deadly throw, accounting for Trevor Penney and then Paul Smith, the first an astonishing direct hit from deep mid-wicket.
It was not the first time Walton - who, it should be said, does not cut the most athletic of figures - had demonstrated such brilliance in the field in this year's B&H.
Although he neither batted nor bowled in an earlier zonal game against Yorkshire, his only other appearance in the competion this season, his accurate arm proved a batsman's downfall on two occasions then, also.
Four years ago, Walton passed up the chance of a place in the Yorkshire academy in order to launch his career in Northampton. Not that being a hero for a day may count for much in the longer term. So infrequently is he called up that he fears he might not get a new contract, let alone go to Lord's.
"It has been frustrating, being given a chance only if someone is injured," he said.
"I'm in the last season of my contract and it is up to me either to prove my worth to the club or else put myself in the showcase."
A video of last week's heroics, circulated to all counties, might not be the worst move he could make.
Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)
Darren Gough (Yorkshire)
The England bowler had quite a week, ending with a splendid 121 against Warwickshire - his maiden century - an unexpected tale by which he could justly be honoured as this week's "hit man". That apart, however, he has showed encouraging signs of a return to form in his primary function, taking five Surrey wickets on Monday and four against Warwickshire on Thursday.
Hit man (Batting performance of the week)
Warren Hegg (Lancashire)
One of these days, Lancashire's consistently impressive backstop will gain the recognition he deserves as a wicketkeeper-batsman. Joint holder of the world record for catches in a match - 11 - he has served his county brilliantly in front of the stumps on many occasions, the latest his match- winning 62-ball 81 against Yorkshire in the Benson and Hedges Cup semi- final.
Team of the week
Martyn Moxon Yorkshire
*Tom Moody . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Worcestershiree
Trevor Penney Warwickshire
Graham Thorpe Surrey
Tim Walton Northamptonshire
Danny Law Sussex
Warren Hegg Lancashire
Darren Gough Yorkshire
Matt Vandrau Derbyshire
Paul Taylor Northamptonshire
Courtney Walsh Gloucestershire
Quote of the week
`I was running and it felt like treading water. But I knew I would have to go, even if it hit me on the head.' Peter Martin after winning the B&H semi-final off the last ball
Hours lost to rain during the County Championship
1 Somerset 34.4
2 Northamptonshire 31. …