Cricket: Curtis steady but dull

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Worcestershire. .203 and 288-6

Nottinghamshire. .233

WHILE one Nottingham folk hero was receiving the last rites across the road yesterday, another was showing his customary disdain for sell-by dates. Gambolling around in the covers with the same unquenchable zest that has envigorated Trent Bridge these past 21 summers, Derek Randall, thank goodness, is still very much with us.

It says much for 'Arkle' that the first major dinner of his testimonial season should have attracted three cricketing knights - Colin Cowdrey, Richard Hadlee and Garfield Sobers. It says rather less for his enduring charms that this 42-year-old teenager's Chaplinesque antics supplied rare relief from the flatness of the fare around him here.

Asked at tea how many balls Tim Curtis had faced, one of the scorers muttered: '8,000 by the looks of it'. Steady as a metronome and only marginally more exciting, the Worcestershire captain was nevertheless justified in the painstaking approach that brought him the only half-century of the match thus far, and ultimately the 28th hundred of his career off 293 balls. Given a deficit of 30, and arguably the shallowest batting order on the circuit, somebody had to get their hands dirty.

Fortunately for visitors and spectators alike, Adam Seymour's arrival at 122 for 3 prompted a change of tempo. The fourth- wicket pair produced 104 in 35 overs, helter-skelter stuff compared with the 56 overs Curtis and Philip Weston had consumed in raising 104 before the lively Greg Mike tilted a precarious balance back towards Nottinghamshire with a post-lunch burst of 3 for 12.

The filling in this particular sandwich was meaty indeed, Graeme Hick following his first- innings single with two masterly boundaries before a hazy prod found first slip. Now he has come of age at international level, perhaps it is his county's turn to suffer his inconsistencies.