Cricket: Barnett brings touch of class

Bristol Nottinghamshire 269 Gloucestershire 210-3
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THERE IS a young class of batsman at Nevil Road that never seems to graduate. It must be 10 years ago now that the former county coach, Eddie Barlow, thought he had found a future England batsman: Tim Hancock. Matt Windows had a fine summer - last year. Rob Cunliffe flickers brightly from time to time.

What they have needed, perhaps, is inspiration, the sight of a class performer at the other end - and in Kim Barnett, who rode into town after the shoot-up in Derby like the Man from Laramie, they now have a quick- draw specialist. He scored 88 in his last Championship match at Bath and added another 56 here. The numbers matter less than the style.

Runs flow while Barnett is at the crease. He always exudes an air of confidence, even when facing fast West Indian bowlers, and it is this bristling aggression, allied to a sound defensive technique and an imperturbable air, that the Gloucestershire order has long needed.

Early rain took 24 overs from the morning play after Jon Lewis had finally exorcised the stubborn Nottinghamshire tail, and Vasbert Drakes did not get a chance to try to find the spot at the Jessop Stand End that had so exercised his batsmen on Wednesday. Once Hancock had fallen at slip the home batsmen spent so much time poking, prodding and peering at that patch of turf that it seemed only a probe by a Royal Engineer mine squad would satisfy them.

Jack Russell, who injects a touch of last-wicket drama into every partnership, exasperated the bowlers by nicking and nudging 18 runs in 19 overs before he too was a victim of unexpected bounce as Paul Franks got turn at the demolition end. Barnett's arrival was announced by two flashing square fours and he and Cunliffe, unbeaten on 77, compiled a stand of 100 in 34 overs that was the nearest to a steady progress this match has so far seen.

In the end bounce beat Barnett, too. He went to cut and the ball took a leading edge to slip.