Cricket: Johnson does the business

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The Independent Online
Durham 242 and 64-1; Notts 285

PAUL JOHNSON underlined his value to Nottinghamshire with an excellent century here yesterday, an innings which grew in importance as a promising position was undermined by a final-session collapse.

A slow, turning pitch was not ideal for their purpose but Nottinghamshire, none the less, had envisaged a greater lead than 43 after dismissing Durham for 242 late on Thursday. An advantage painfully ground out was then threatened with rapid wastage when Durham batted again as Chris Lewis conceded runs rapidly before he was withdrawn from the attack.

After reaching 212 for 3, Nottinghamshire surrendered seven wickets for 73, the last five for 18 runs in the space of four overs. David Graveney, Durham's 41-year-old slow left-armer, returned 6 for 80 from an unbroken 31-over stint, his best figures for the county.

Paul Pollard and Mark Crawley built a solid base as Durham's seam attack, in which Steve Lugsden, a 17-year-old making his only second Championship appearance, struggled for consistency.

But Graveney was introduced 40 minutes before lunch and, by the interval, had claimed the wickets of both openers - Pollard popping a catch to short leg, Crawley offering no stroke - as well as that of Tim Robinson, shaping to cut, as Nottinghamshire slipped to 87 for 3.

Jimmy Adams, though never looking in command, played some handsome strokes and his fourth-wicket partnership with Johnson, yielding 125 in 30 overs, created a potentially useful position. However, Lewis, whose performances continue to question his status as a Test all-rounder, made an early exit and the innings fell apart, although it survived just long enough for Johnson to reach three figures when a ferocious pull off Anderson Cummins brought him his 14th four.

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