Cricket: Notts ride the follow-on to final triumph

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Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 394 and 104

Nottinghamshire . . . . . . . . . . .242 and 330-9 dec

Nottinghamshire win by 74 runs

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE achieved the considerable feat of beating Kent by 74 runs to go top of the table here yesterday after being obliged to follow on, only the 11th time a side have triumphed in similar circumstances in post-war Championship cricket.

Five overs remained when Kent were bowled out for 104 after a final session on an old-fashioned turning pitch that was so compelling that the entire Nottinghamshire committee watched transfixed from their balcony, having long since abandoned their routine meeting.

Nottinghamshire themselves last won a match like this as long ago as 1863 (against Yorkshire), but then the follow-on margin was only 80. Derbyshire beat them here after batting again in 1984 and most sides, having saved the game, usually shut up shop or run out of time.

But there were two factors that contributed to a splendid day's cricket which produced 366 runs and 20 wickets: Ron Allsopp's ideal four-day pitch and, not least, Nottinghamshire's positive outlook from the start.

Beginning the day still 80-odd adrift, they refused to be frustrated by Richard Davis, bowling over the wicket into the bowler's footmarks. They went fiercely after anything off line, made their own luck (of which more in a moment) and were probably gleefully surprised to make as many as 330 for 9.

Davis emerged with seven wickets, but it was not until much later that he operated round the wicket on a pitch where the ball turned and bounced, and not one of his victims came in the time-honoured manner of drawing the batsman forward and finding the outside edge.

For all that, he was out of luck when Paul Johnson was judged not to have steered his first ball to slip off a mixture of pad and the face of the bat; Johnson's vigorous half-century, made from 65 balls with many an improvisation, did much to unhinge the Kent bowling.

They were required to make 179 from what would have been 36 overs, but after Trevor Ward had savaged Chris Cairns for 27 from 2, not unreasonably making hay before the spinners appeared, the early batting disappeared in a frenzy of unnecessary recklessness. On this pitch it made sense to keep going, which Graham Cowdrey did promisingly for a time, but the rub of the green was not with Kent, especially their captain, and the spinners prevailed, Michael Field- Buss finishing with 6 for 42, his best Championship figures.