Bailey and Loye leave a lasting impression

Northamptonshire 269-3 v Nottinghamshire
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The Independent Online
Some batsmen are almost born to play diligent innings. Rob Bailey, a natural aggressor, had such demands thrust upon him by poor personal Championship form alleviated yesterday by his 40th first-class century.

A dour, maybe even dire, pitch yielded runs grudgingly, except to the waving willow of Mal Loye, who made 98, and provided no inspiration for a Nottinghamshire attack already exasperated by three Trent Bridge surfaces contributing to inevitable Championship draws.

Paul Johnson, the captain, reckons that the new groundsman, Frank Dalling, has been "ultra safe", bearing in mind that Nottinghamshire won the Championship in 1981 and 1987 on grassy tracks and were docked 25 points for an unsuitable pitch against Derbyshire in 1989.

Johnson said: "We have to give him confidence to prepare something that will deteriorate. At the moment, we are playing negative cricket and it's not down to us - it's down to the facilities we are given."

Nottinghamshire themselves have played 10 Championship games without a win since beating Yorkshire by eight wickets last July. Four of those matches have been ended in innings defeats, which has encouraged the team manager, Alan Ormrod, to urge the side to be more vocal when in the field.

There was some evidence of that but Nottinghamshire still had little to shout about. They introduced Lyndsay Walker, 21, an Australian-born wicketkeeper, who had the chagrin of seeing Chris Tolley drop Loye on three at extra cover, and also Bailey, on 57, in the same position, off Richard Bates.

Bailey's hundred occupied 88 overs at the crease, 262 balls in all, and included eight fours, while Loye, who had edged Kevin Evans just short of slip on 96, departed two runs later. He faced 191 balls, hit eight fours and struck Bates for two sixes.

The nightwatchman Paul Taylor joined Bailey, fortifying the theory that this innings will go on and on, with Northamptonshire hoping that an ultimately worn pitch will assist the off-spinner, John Emburey.