Cricket: Gritty Russell leads fightback: Notts loose grip

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The Independent Online
Notts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .318 and 65-4

Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE'S grip on this match slipped somewhat after an episodic day here, in which an obstinate half-century by Jack Russell pulled Gloucestershire out of deep trouble before the home side, having gained a valuable first-innings lead, then lost their first four second-innings wickets for 41.

Russell's efforts had rescued Gloucestershire from potentially dire straits. They were 74 for 5 when he left the pavilion, the follow-on target of 169 a forlorn hope.

When he returned after

almost three and a quarter hours he was unbeaten on 63 and Gloucestershire, while still 95 runs in arrears, have at least given themselves a chance to deny Nottinghamshire a fifth win in seven games and, perhaps, the Championship lead.

Russell's partnerships with Mark Alleyne and Mark Davies enabled Gloucestershire to add 105 with only one loss between lunch and tea.

Before lunch Nottinghamshire dominated proceedings with some fine cricket. Andy Pick and his new-ball partner Kevin Evans struck early but it was during five overs from Greg Mike that the real damage occurred.

Mike bowled Chris Broad off an inside edge and had Tony Wright leg before, before Robert Dawson set off on a run as Johnson fielded, failing by a yard to get home when Alleyne sent him back.

Three wickets in three overs by Andy Afford immediately after tea, followed by a fourth for Mike, ended Gloucestershire's progress but the visitors seized the initiative again in the last hour. Mike Smith took a return catch in his first over to dismiss Wayne Dessaur, then won lbw verdicts in consecutive balls to dismiss Paul Pollard and Jimmy Adams, before Courtney Walsh uprooted Graeme Archer's middle stump.