Afford spins a line

Cricket: Notts 301 and 200-3 Worcestershire 360
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The Independent Online
THE temperature yesterday was more suited to the football match between Japan and Sweden being played at the nearby City Ground. But the hardy souls who were brave enough for Trent Bridge were treated to a tense struggle between two teams at the foot of the table.

Worcestershire let an opportunity for a commanding first- innings lead slip in the morning session when they lost their remaining seven wickets for only 87 runs. They began the day just 22 runs behind with Tom Moody on 132 not out.

Moody began where he had left off on Friday, dismissing short and over- pitched deliveries with brutal authority. His partners were less impressive. Neal Radford, the nightwatchman, fell tamely to a catch at cover while Gavin Haynes attempted a Sunday League-style flick over the slips only to be well caught by Matthew Dowman.

When Moody himself was out for 157, miscueing a pull to mid-on, Nottinghamshire were beginning to enjoy their morning's work. Their spinners, Andy Afford and the promising Jimmy Hindson, their leading wicket-taker in the Championship this year, both got the ball to turn and bounce. Hindson struggled with his line but Afford was spot on, dismissing Steven Rhodes and Damian D'Oliveira in the same over.

Philip Newport also fell to Afford without scoring to belatedly bring in David Leatherdale, who was struggling with a thigh injury. When Hindson wrapped up the innings by dismissing Lampitt, Worcestershire had limped to a 59-run first-innings lead.

Tim Robinson then proceeded to play a sparkling and aggressive innings which soon wiped out the deficit. Robinson has been in fine form and his 51, including 10 fours, came off only 75 balls. By the close of play Nottinghamshire had battled their way to a lead of 141 aided by pugnacious fifties from Graeme Archer and Paul Johnson. If time allows, Nottinghamshire's three spinners could be decisive in achieving a victory tomorrow, particularly as Worcestershire's shortage of slow bowlers is so acute.

There is, however, the slightest hint of controversy about this match after the umpires reported the pitch to the Test and County Cricket Board for taking turn on the first day. The TCCB's representatives have made an inspection, but there will be no public announcement until after the the game has been concluded.