Cricket: Luck eludes Nottinghamshire

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 319 and 117 Nottinghamshire 192 and 122-5

Nottinghamshire needed a degree of sympathy and something resembling a miracle here yesterday. Instead, they collected yet another injury, to their makeshift opener Matthew Dowman, and to borrow an old theatrical saying there would hardly have been a dry eye in the place as the remnants of their batting struggle for survival.

As invariably happens, not much else went their way, either when they embarked on the strictly notional task of making 245 to win after a disciplined performance by their seam attack had dismissed Derbyshire for 117.

This owed as much to some accurate bowling by Kevin Evans and Mark Bowen, who had match figures of 11 for 109, as to some variable batting, though with the ball moving about and bouncing unevenly, locating the middle of the bat was not exactly straightforward.

The bounce from the new ball tended to be steeper and sharper and with both their specialist openers, Tim Robinson and Paul Pollard, nursing damaged hands, the home side knew they were in for a bumpy ride.

It took Devon Malcolm a while to find the right line, but the moment he did so he was too sharp for Ashley Metcalfe. Then Dowman, who had coped better than most with Malcolm in the first innings, retired when struck on the elbow by Andrew Harris.

At that stage Nottinghamshire could ill-afford another mishap, but soon afterwards Paul Johnson, attempting a single, was run out by Harris' direct hit.

Usman Afzaal's remarkable run of success came to an end when he got the faintest of edges to Kevin Dean's outswinger and Nottinghamshire found themselves at 43 for 4, which was effectively 43 for 7, and on this pitch there was no hiding place.

By now much of Derbyshire's appealing seemed cynical and orchestrated, as if influenced by one or two decisions during their innings.

Chris Adams, for one, looked particularly nonplussed to be given out leg-before to Bowen, despite getting in a good forward stride, though one of the medium-pacer's virtues is that he bowls from close to the stumps.

That, plus his ability to move the ball either way from a full length, makes him the sort of bowler who could turn out to be an underestimated surprise package, particularly if this season continues to be damp.