Cricket: No excuses for Notts

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Northamptonshire 212 and 364

Nottinghamshire 172 and 233

Northants win by 171 runs

WITH 17 wickets falling on the first day of this game, a result well within the distance was a certainty from the outset. Nor was it any surprise, following their impressive batting second time round, that it was Northamptonshire and not the visitors who ended up celebrating their fourth Championship victory of the season.

No doubt, a few less than favourable opinions about the quality of the pitch will have been expressed by the Nottinghamshire players as they cried into their beer last night. But as Northamptonshire showed in scoring 364 in their second innings to give them an overall lead of 404, there can be no real complaints about the relaid surface. If anything, the occasionally irregular bounce, which helped Rob Bailey to return career best figures of five for 54, was conducive to one of the more interesting games of the season.

Northants added just one run to their overnight total before Chris Cairns bowled Paul Taylor for his fifth wicket of the innings, Curtly Ambrose having been bowled by Kevin Evans in the over before after doing a very good impression of someone knocking up at Wimbledon with a blindfold on.

With almost half the match left to graft out a victory that was never really on the cards the Nottinghamshire openers, Paul Pollard and Mark Saxelby, set about their task with commendable grit. Putting on 82 for the first wicket, they had to survive the twin onslaught of Ambrose firing missiles at them from one end and the left- armer Taylor bending bananas from the other.

In the end their painstaking efforts amounted to nothing as their middle-order began to collapse following the dismissal of Pollard shortly after lunch. Saxelby, whose 77 was a career best, came close to carrying his bat before being stumped.