Bailey turns glut Northants' way

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The Independent Online
reports from Trent Bridge

Northamptonshire 352-8 Nottinghamshire 314-8 Northants win by 38 runs

If the Trent Bridge Test match is played on a surface like this one, the crowd will not so much be baying for blood underneath the England balcony at around a quarter past 12 on the third morning, as still waiting for the first wicket to fall.

Ron Allsopp will be putting away his lawnmower for the last time at the end of this summer, and while Raymond Illingworth may even now be putting his pitch blueprint through a Lord's shredder, Allsopp has spent the last two decades making Nottinghamshire the Savile Row of made to measure turf.

Flying greentops, square turners, they all come alike to Nottinghamshire's groundsman, and yesterday's grassless shirtfront (666 runs in the day) could not have been more ideal for this type of contest. Nottinghamshire lost, but there was a time, even chasing a total that has never before been overhauled in the 33-year history of this competition, when Northamptonshire's 352 looked in serious danger.

It is not often that you can describe a team as having collapsed to 352 for 8, but from 207 for 0 from 38 overs at lunch, the highest total in the competition's history - Somerset's 413 for 4 against Devon in the run drunk summer of 1990 - was well within reach.

However, Northamptonshire lost seven wickets for 47 in the final seven overs, and when Nottinghamshire reached 172 for 0 at half-way, without the hint of a slog, it was a little easier to comprehend why the Cobblers' one-day record had hitherto been so abject. Until Sunday's one-run victory over Lancashire, their entire list of one-day triumphs ran to Scotland and the Netherlands.

They were in danger of not adding to it when Paul Pollard and Tim Robinson put on 180 in 33 overs for the first wicket, and although it was Anil Kumble who made the breakthrough by bowling Pollard (his eighth half-century in his last nine one-day innings) for 96, it was Rob Bailey who turned the match in the space of four balls.

Bailey's gentle off spin accounted first for Paul Johnson, well caught at short mid-off, and when Robinson spotted a near long hop in the same over, and was bowled aiming a gruesome, head-up smear over square leg. Nottinghamshire evaporated more tamely than a final margin of 38 runs suggests.

Northamptonshire's 352 for 8 was only 20 runs short of the highest total involving two first-class counties in this competition, and the foundations were laid by Alan Fordham thrashing 132 off 144 deliveries (11 fours and 4 sixes) and Richard Montgomerie's more measured 109 from 142 balls. When Fordham was finally out lbw, Northamptonshire's opening stand was worth 232.

The home side made a decent enough fist of it, but in the end, were a bowler and a batsman short. This translates to Chris Lewis, who is still missing with a hip injury, and the jaundiced view in these parts is that surgery has less chance of curing it than Nottinghamshire acceding to his transfer request.