Cricket: Lewis eases into groove

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The Independent Online
Nottinghamshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .597-8 dec

Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91-3

ON days such as this it is possible to appreciate what a fine cricketer Chris Lewis would be if only he could keep a grip on the marvellous talent he undoubtedly possesses.

His career so far has been one of recurring disappointment, his progress impaired if not by physical injury then by fragility of temperament. When lack of fitness prevented his consideration by the hard men of the new regime for this summer's opening Test, it was not hard to imagine that Lewis's 25th cap, earned in the Caribbean last winter, might be his last.

But yesterday all these troubles seemed far away. Lewis, for once carrying forward some confidence following his 95 against Leicestershire last week, made an unbeaten 220 of elegance and touch that he will be hard pressed to improve on. The stroke-play that brought him 21 fours was exquisite, his half-dozen sixes the result of a minimum of effort and the maximum of timing, even though one of them, off the off-spin of Neil Smith, sailed serenely over the pavilion. Lewis, in eight seasons of professional cricket, now has six first-class hundreds, two of them doubles. Last September he made 247 against Durham, equalling the highest score by a Nottinghamshire player since the war.

Whatever he does with the ball in this match, Warwickshire will do well to escape with a draw, requiring 448 merely to avoid the follow-on. The Nottinghamshire total, 597 for 8 declared, is the highest made against them this season. Durham totalled 556 for 8 in June, the match of Brian Lara's 501.

In truth, Warwickshire looked an ordinary team yesterday. There was little for them in the pitch but their bowling was weary and unimaginative none the less. Tim Munton tried all the way but Paul Smith and Roger Twose often made it easy for Lewis by pitching too short.

They needed an early breakthrough but could disturb neither Lewis nor Paul Pollard for an hour and a half after Nottinghamshire resumed before the left-hander was bowled by Gladstone Small for 134. Lewis cut loose alongside Wayne Noon, the sixth wicket adding 94, and more so with Kevin Evans, scoring 112 between lunch and tea in a partnership worth 157.

The declaration came with 20 overs of the day remaining, whereupon Warwickshire's predicament became deeper. Andy Moles dollied a catch to forward short-leg, Twose mis- cued a pull, Dominic Ostler edged a push. With Lara unable to bat after sitting the day out with a throat infection, the title favourites were 91 for 3 at the close.

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