Cricket: Johnson slips off Hayden's hook

Nottinghamshire 220 & 209-3 Northamptonshire 484-3 dec Match drawn
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The Independent Online
WHEN TEA was taken early due to a light shower, 633 runs had been scored since Friday morning for the loss of only six wickets. It is an oft-heard cry that English bowlers must learn to bowl on better pitches if they are to make an impression at international level, but the lack of pace and bounce in this one would have defeated even the most skilled artisan, except perhaps a high-class wrist spinner.

Having none of those, North-amptonshire relied on Devon Malcolm and Paul Taylor for pace and Michael Davies and Graeme Swann for tweakers, but the doggedness of Nottinghamshire's batsmen frustrated them. It did not help that Paul Johnson was dropped by Matthew Hayden at slip off Swann with the visitors still 132 behind. It was not a difficult chance, but possibly Hayden was surprised that Johnson dabbed the ball to him after progressing to 40 so comfortably.

It proved a costly miss because Jason Gallian and Matthew Dowman had already been dismissed, Dowman driving Swann to short extra-cover and Gallian run out by Russell Warren's turn and throw from deep midwicket.

Malcolm tried hard and was unlucky in his first spell, but enthusiasm is difficult to retain when attempted bouncers limp past barely hip high. Having profited handsomely from the insipid nature of the pitch themselves, the home side could hardly complain, but it did not make for entertaining cricket. A single wicket was scant reward for the innovative Swann, but ultimately he was let down by his captain's hands.

When the rain arrived just after 4pm, Johnson was undefeated on 83, his third Championship half-century in a row.