Cricket: Nottinghamshire make themselves at home

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The Independent Online
An exceedingly green pitch, plenty of movement off the seam, poor batting and excellent slip catching made for a day of high entertainment. A total of 14 wickets fell and one hopes that a flurry of pitch inspectors will not descend on Old Trafford, for there was nothing wrong with the surface.

In these days of anaemic covered pitches it made an agreeable change to see such a lively surface. It showed how ill-prepared modern batsmen are when they have to contend with these conditions and it was all a powerful argument for a return to uncovered pitches.

Let us hope that Peter Marron, the Old Trafford groundsman, can come up with something similar for the third Test and that the first two, at Edgbaston and Lord's, are not all that different. The Australian batsmen would be scuttling about all over the place.

Overnight rain held up the start until 12.15pm and then, after Nottinghamshire had decided to field, Kevin Evans made the most of it. At a brisk fast- medium, he found bounce and moved the ball sharply away from the right- hander. Strangely, he only seemed to swing the ball when changing his line to bowl to left-handers. He took 6 for 40, the best figures of his career.

Jason Gallian set the tone for the Lancashire innings when he followed a lifter from Evans in the day's first over and Graham Archer held the first of four fine catches at second slip, low, two-handed to his right. In Evans' second over Mike Atherton played back to another which lifted and left the bat. He instinctively followed it and was caught at first slip. Atherton shuffled off in that apparently unconcerned way of his, but surely he must be worried by his lack of runs so far this year.

Neil Fairbrother was third out trying to hit Evans off the front foot over midwicket and skying a catch to wide mid-on. It became 14 for 4 when Graham Lloyd nibbled at another which bounced and left him. Immediately after lunch, Mike Watkinson hooked to fine leg and Ian Austin steered the next ball to third slip.

Archer now pouched three in succession at second slip and Lancashire were 52 for 9 before John Crawley, who reached a glowing fifty, and Peter Martin played some excellent strokes, adding 73 for the last wicket. The stroke of the day was a pull for six over midwicket by Crawley off Chris Tolley.

Then it was Nottinghamshire's turn and Wasim Akram and Glen Chapple began by taking three wickets when their score was 13. After tea, Noel Gie was bowled playing no stroke at Wasim but then Paul Johnson, who reached a doughty fifty, and Usman Afzaal fought bravely through to the close, adding 91 in 31 overs on a pitch which had eased under the sun.

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