Cricket: Johnson shows responsible touch: Nottinghamshire set course for top

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The Independent Online
Notts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .318

Gloucestershire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6-0

PAUL JOHNSON assumed responsibility in more than one sense here yesterday after a persistent problem with tendinitis forced the Nottinghamshire captain, Tim Robinson, to withdraw.

Having missed an opportunity to ascend to the top of the Championship table in the last round of games, Nottinghamshire fancy they can do it in this round, in which the current leaders, Essex, are idle.

On a slow pitch thought likely to respond favourably to Andy Afford's left-arm spin when Gloucestershire bat for a second time, chances are that the objective will be achieved. The forecast might look less optimistic, however, had Johnson not taken the acting captaincy as a cue for an exceptionally fine innings.

Johnson, one of the circuit's great entertainers, might have taken much delight on another day in giving a noisy party of schoolchildren cause to focus on the cricket. But here he batted in due deference to unpromising circumstances, organising a recovery from 86 for 4 with a splendid, chanceless century.

By the time Courtney Walsh, bowling with something in reserve after leaving the sweat and toil to others, uprooted his leg stump for 129, Johson had guided Nottinghamshire to 311 for 8 in three and a half hours.

Wayne Noon supported him stoutly for the fifth wicket until Walsh's pace undid him and then Greg Mike helped further frustrate a Gloucestershire attack who had bowled with commendable accuracy in a seventh-wicket alliance of 103. Again the partnership was ended by Walsh.