Cricket: Harvey makes belated impact

Nottinghamshire 265-9 v Gloucestershire
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IAN HARVEY, the 27-year-old Victorian who was awarded the dubious privilege of filling Courtney Walsh's size 12 boots, won Gloucestershire hearts with a post-tea 10-over spell that may be critical to the outcome of this match. In footballing terms Nottinghamshire are fighting off relegation while the Westcountrymen are challenging for promotion - all this to happen when the championship splits in September.

At present there is a 10-point gap between the teams; there is also a political twist. Nottinghamshire are part of the Test Match consortium and neither they nor Lancashire, second from bottom, can really afford to start 2000 in the Second Division.

Gloucestershire's signing of Harvey, an all-rounder recommended by the county coach, John Bracewell, was a gamble and when he almost immediately dropped out in a chilly and damp April with a stiff back the committee must have braced themselves for the backlash.

Up to yesterday Harvey, medium height and fair-haired, had looked not much more than useful; he is a deceptive performer. Bowling at a brisk medium on a pitch that was not quite as innocent as it appeared, Harvey extracted some unexpected nip. His first success was to trap Usman Afzaal off the pitch and then he had to watch while the drama developed at the other end. Ben Gannon, the tall, raw but quick recruit from Herefordshire, found a patch at the Jessop Stand end; one ball flew into Jason Gallian's left cheekbone, necessitating a trip to hospital (bruising and a headache), but the tenacious Tim Robinson and Paul Johnson seemed to have weathered the storm until Jonathan Lewis, exploiting that same patch, pinned the former England opener Robinson.

A good slip catch removed Graeme Archer before Harvey ripped through the middle and tail, taking 4 for 34 as six wickets fell for 49 runs. Although Paul Franks and Mark Bowen added a useful 33, Gloucestershire would not have relished batting themselves. Their turn will come today.