Cricket: Cairns profits on damp track

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Nottinghamshire 431-6 dec

Durham 147 and 167-1

IT HAS been a lean summer for Nottinghamshire in more ways than one. This was supposed to have been Festival Week at Trent Bridge, but the county's efforts to persuade local industry to support the venture served only as a reminder that the recession shows few signs of lifting.

Thus there was little that could be called festive about the place yesterday and the 'fun day' planned for today will need to be very diverting indeed to obscure the fact that last season's Sunday League champions are currently rooted firmly at the bottom of the table.

But if the ability to win one-day matches has, for the moment, deserted them, Nottinghamshire have not lost the habit in Championship cricket. Following Friday's splendid batting by Tim Robinson and Chris Lewis, Nottinghamshire declared at their handsome overnight total, 431 for 6, and Durham promptly lost both openers, Wayne Larkins and Paul Parker, for 18 in the first six overs. From that point, Durham's prospects of avoiding the follow-on never looked good.

Only Mark Briers, born barely 10 miles from Trent Bridge at Kegworth, prevented an embarrassment becoming a humiliation but, despite the third half-century of his fledgling first-class career, Durham were dismissed for 147, their lowest total so far.

Dean Jones gave considerable impetus to the follow-on, hitting the ball hard despite a suspected broken finger in his right hand. He needed only 99 balls to complete his third consecutive first-class century, with 12 fours and three sixes, and was unbeaten on 114 out of 167 for 1 at the close. Jones is due to join the Australian Test squad next week and could have been excused for declining to risk himself here. Even he looks unlikely to pull Durham out of this mess.

Jones was bowled off an inside edge in the first innings by David Pennett, a whippy 21-year-old right-armer playing only his second Championship match. Pennett, released from the Yorkshire Cricket Academy last year, rushed towards the slip cordon as if the wicket had clinched the Ashes. His delight was no less restrained later when John Scott was caught at second slip by Evans. This time, in a preconceived plot, the entire group of close-in fielders scattered, leaving Pennett stranded without a hand to slap.

The most effective bowling was by Chris Cairns, who exploited a moist pitch to finish with four for 41, further illustrating an improvement in his form since Mike Hendrick, the former England pace bowler, became Nottinghamshire's manager last month.