Cricket: Kallis ends the wait

Nottinghamshire 210 and 228 Middlesex 430-8dec and 12-0 Middlesex won by 10 wkts
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A clear blue sky yesterday morning doubtlessly had Middlesex thinking all was well in their world. They had all day in which to bowl out Nottinghamshire and, assuming Kent were to beat Yorkshire, they would jump two places to fourth in the Championship. The lunchtime score from Headingley, however, should have convinced Mark Ramprakash's men that nothing can be taken for granted in this year's title race.

There were times yesterday when their cricket drifted along rather disappointingly, as if their bowlers expected that wickets would come of their own accord. Certainly the way Nottinghamshire's overnight batsmen re-established themselves, it soon looked as if Middlesex would need a change of game-plan before their small band of supporters slipped off to sleep.

Guy Welton and Paul Johnson were untroubled by Jacques Kallis and Angus Fraser in some early pie-throwing encounters. Johnson took a couple of fours off Kallis in one over - a late cut and then a front-foot drive through extra cover - and 19-year-old Welton moved to within four runs of a half-century with an equally pleasant cover boundary off Jamie Hewitt.

At last, after what seemed a long time, Ramprakash introduced Tim Bloomfield, who in only his second Championship match immediately had both batsmen hurrying their shots with some straight, aggressive bowling. Welton, shouldering arms with distinction, had his off-stump knocked back by a ball nipping down the slope, and several overs later Bloomfield had Johnson lbw. When Fraser came back before lunch to trap Chris Tolley lbw, Nottinghamshire, with five wickets in hand, still needed 72 runs to make Middlesex bat again.

Middlesex would have been even better placed had Kallis held on to a one-handed chance off Usman Afzaal, for the left- hander kept Middlesex at bay for 150 minutes. Kallis reprieved himself with two wickets in the afternoon session, as wicketkeeper Keith Brown made amends for dropping Paul Franks twice off Phil Tufnell by running out Afzaal with a direct hit from an acute angle.

Franks, however, batted on resolutely beyond tea and had helped put an innings defeat out of the reckoning by the time Kallis disturbed his equanimity with a bouncer. The South African then effected the end of Nottinghamshire's long resistance when he hit Mark Bowen on the finger and the batsman was forced to retire.

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