Cricket: Johnson's milestone

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The Independent Online
Lancashire . . . . . . . .295 and 99-2

Nottinghamshire. . . . . .560

WITH A belligerent, career-best 187, Paul Johnson put Nottinghamshire into a commanding position in their Championship match here yesterday, led the charge to his county's highest score against Lancashire, and did his Test prospects no harm.

Johnson, successful on last year's England A tour to the West Indies, smacked 22 fours and two sixes from 306 balls as Nottinghamshire raced to 560 and a lead of 265.

On Friday, the 28-year-old took 139 deliveries to reach his first 50 but yesterday, on a benign wicket with Lancashire without their Pakistani Test bowler Wasim Akram, Johnson switched to attacking mode to put the game out of Lancashire's reach.

His sudden change of tempo was infectious as first the young New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns hit Alex Barnett for 20 runs in one over, then Chris Lewis took revenge for painful blows to the midriff and foot with 83 runs from only 112 deliveries.

It was not merely the speed at which the runs piled up that bothered Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's captain in the absence of the injured Neil Fairbrother, it was the theatrical air in which it was achieved.

Cairns brought up his fifty with a mighty six, Johnson's hundred came from a similar blow into the pavilion seats, and Lewis maintained the milestone theme with a six to herald his 100 partnership with Johnson.

By rattling up 316 runs yesterday, in 250 minutes and 62.5 overs, Nottinghamshire easily passed their previous best against Lancashire of 504 for 5 in 1949 and Johnson eclipsed his 165 against Northamptonshire in 1990.

But there was more consternation for Watkinson when Lancashire, beaten in their last two matches, lost Gehan Mendis and Steve Titchard cheaply when the second innings opened.

However, at the close, the 21-year-old John Crawley was still there with 52 out of 99.