Cricket: Careless run costs Atherton

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 125 and 357 Nottinghamshire 263 and 30-0

This continues to be an excellent game of cricket. Lancashire's batting in their second innings was a shade too reckless for their own good and Nottinghamshire's final target of 220 should be well within their capability even though Tim Robinson, who hurt his arm fielding, was unable to open.

While John Crawley and Mike Atherton, an all-Manchester Grammar School partnership, were together, it looked as if Mike Watkinson's only problem as Lancashire's captain would be the timing of his declaration.

Crawley continued to stroke the ball around with disarming ease, while Atherton began to show the benefit of having batted for more than three and a half hours on Thursday. He began by square-driving Kevin Evans for two to reach his 50. He then played Evans square off his toes for four and cover drove him for another with new-found confidence. The 100 which would have put his mind at ease with the international season starting next Thursday seemed to be his for the taking.

But if these two old school chums have a weakness, it is their running between the wickets. When Crawley was 75, they set off late for a quick single. Mark Bowen, the bowler, raced down the pitch and deftly kicked the ball on to the stumps and while all Nottinghamshire thought Crawley was out, the umpire, Vanburn Holder, did not.

A little later, Crawley cut Usman Afzaal's orthodox slow left-arm to Chris Tolley's left at backward point. Atherton called Crawley for the run, forgetting that Tolley is left-handed and was beaten by his throw to the wicket-keeper. This was the first wicket to be wasted and one hopes it was not one which will have repercussions on England later, as Atherton badly needed a hundred.

While Graham Lloyd tucked in with gusto to Afzaal's gentle offerings, Crawley proceeded elegantly to his century. It came with a glance for four off Paul Franks. He tried to repeat the stroke rather casually later in the over and was caught behind. Another waste. Watkinson was out two runs later, on the back foot to Franks, and Lancashire were 240 for 4 at lunch. Afterwards Lloyd reached his 50 in 53 balls before pulling at Graeme Archer and skying to mid-on.

The next four wickets were all avoidable, too, and suddenly Lancashire found themselves at 331 for 9, 193 runs ahead. It was now that Peter Martin drove a ball from Afzaal against Robinson's arm at silly point, but fortunately it only caused severe bruising and he will bat if necessary. When Nottinghamshire began their second innings, Tolley opened with Paul Pollard and had made 24 off the 30 runs scored before bad light stopped play with 21 overs left.