NOTTINGHAMSHIRE have started their new-broom era well. A young side, under a 24-year-old captain, have so far managed competently without their old lags, and in the process given the impression of being a team.
If any phone calls between Chris Broad and Nottinghamshire have been taped, and their transcripts are made public, not so many expressions of affection may be heard. The club are not adding to their statement that Broad and Eddie Hemmings are not being re-engaged because of a youth policy; but the continuing presence of Derek Randall effectively refutes it, and hints at personality differences.
Mark Crawley, leading because Tim Robinson has a rib injury and with Randall by his side, sent Worcestershire in on a pitch of apparent if not actual innocence and wrung a three-wicket spell from Chris Lewis. Lewis had Tim Curtis dropped at third slip before being caught at second; David Leatherdale's first-ball yorker suggested that Lewis has been watching Waqar Younis this summer; and an outswinger beat Damian d'Oliveira's outside edge to hit off stump. Now it remains for someone to arrest the transformation of Chris Cairns from promising fast bowler to moderate medium pacer.
Crawley's second piece of captaincy was to have Andy Afford on at the Diglis end early, in the 32nd over, to bowl a teasing spell that secured him the wickets of Graeme Hick and Steve Rhodes by means of flight. Afford had a strong cross wind to drift the ball into the right- handers, yet he turned enough to beat the outside edge when Rhodes advanced to drive.
Hick advanced at Afford too, then checked his drive and played back defensively. This time the ball did enough to touch the outside edge - a super piece of spin bowling on a cold and blustery day deprived of 50 overs by rain.
Worcestershire's cricket chairman Michael Jones expressed an interest in Broad yesterday, but he is not thought to be serious. The county have a left-handed opener of potentially the same calibre in Phil Weston, who is not going to university next summer and who looks so good that he probably never will.
Northamptonshire, in fourth place in the Championship, took an early stranglehold on their game against Middlesex when they shot them out for 95 thanks to a spell of 5 for 24 by their 24- year-old left-arm pace bowler, Paul Taylor. He dismissed Mike Roseberry and Mike Gatting with successive balls, and the only resistance came from Desmond Haynes, Mark Ramprakash and Keith Brown. Northamptonshire finished the day on 38 for 1.