Cricket / County Championship: Pick chooses his moment

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Worcs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .203

Nottinghamshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6-0

ANDY PICK might have appeared a one-day wonder a couple of England A tours and a shoulder injury ago, but Phil Sharpe, the Test observer with a brief to report back to Ted Dexter, saw otherwise yesterday.

The new, improved Pick moved the ball significantly to cast aside the weak muscle problem which needed Harley Street advice last autumn, to tear out Tim Curtis, Graeme Hick and Damian D'Oliveira for 12 runs in the space of seven overs after lunch.

With the handsome, but as yet unfinished 1,400-seater Hound Road stand - costing pounds 1.5m - keeping a thankfully silent vigil, despite its busy workforce, Nottinghamshire produced the start which makes them the wild card in the Championship. There or thereabouts, but with a lack of batting ballast.

An emphasis on youth is all very well but four-day games will depend on old heads, and Nottinghamshire are thin in that department with the expulsion of Chris Broad and Eddie Hemmings, both already performing significant deeds for their new employers.

Of all the potental first-day century-makers, Curtis must have ranked as the bookmakers' raging certainty. After making 43, he was yorked by Pick, the only feasible way he might have departed. Watched by his father Mike, the former England rugby union outside-half and chairman of selectors, Philip Weston blossomed, then took a brandishing bat a bit too far, edging a drive to Chris Lewis, who moved niftily at slip to catch. Weston had lofted the previous ball from Andy Afford handsomely to the boundary.

Hick was subtly dismissed, low at slip by Paul Pollard, and pickles were on the post-lunch menu for Worcestershire. They were in a big one at 115 for 6 when Adam Seymour, granted an opportunity by David Leatherdale's broken finger, battled through three and a half hours for 32.

As entertainment goes, the Worcestershire innings was enough to turn the spectators thoughts from dreams of the new season to the drams of forgetfulness in the pavilion bar. Three ducks and the need for resolution from Richard Illingworth summed up their dilemma but Nottinghamshire have a few of their own.

Without Paul Johnson, who has a broken hand, their avowed policy of bringing on youth, after dispensing with Broad, produced as his opening successor Dererk Randall, aged 42, and now in a testimonial season after a benefit year 11 seasons ago. Randall's joints do not creak and shake, but Nottinghamshire's thinking might.

They gained ascendancy, if not control, on day one but with Lewis batting as high as five, at least one place above his station, this match has a long way to run. Especially if Curtis and Co can put together the concentration which was so clearly lacking first time around.