Cricket: Notts suffer in silence

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The Independent Online
Middlesex. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .281 and 219-8

Nottinghamshire. . . . . . . . . . . . .266

IF MIDDLESEX beat Nottinghamshire tomorrow they will owe it to Desmond Haynes and Philip Tufnell, who play in the same Championship but who were in a different league from the other players at Lord's yesterday.

Haynes, having scored two centuries in three Tests against Pakistan last month, showed no mercy to smaller fry and scored a distinguished 98 in 179 minutes with 12 fours. He drove and hooked the New Zealander Chris Cairns on the on-side and clobbered the spinner Andrew Afford to the cover boundary six times.

His innings ought to have given Middlesex a large enough lead to win the match, especially if Tufnell bowls as well as he did in the morning when Middlesex established a first-innings lead of 15. By the close of play the lead was 234, with two wickets to fall.

Nottinghamshire lost their last nine first-innings wickets for 82 and the reason was that Tufnell, in a spell of 14 overs, took five of the seven wickets to fall before lunch for only 25 runs. Although the wicket grew more difficult during the day, in the morning it was hard work for the spinners and both Tufnell and John Emburey showed that they have recovered from the Indian tour.

True, Nottinghamshire's batsmen did not play them well. Chris Lewis made the only vigorous strike of the morning's play - a six to long off - off Tufnell, who otherwise kept him quiet, bowling at his legs. Tufnell finally had him caught at short leg for 28, Lewis being one of only three Nottinghamshire players to get into double figures, as they dawdled through their innings.

There were not many spectators (I counted exactly 27 in the Edrich Stand in mid-afternoon). The Cup Final did not help, but the third day of a four-day championship game does not send a thrill of anticipation through would-be spectators.

The match improved as the game wore on. Although he took no wickets, Lewis was able to force Haynes to play hurriedly to sharply lifting deliveries. But after a neat opening stand of 78 between Haynes and Matthew Keech, and a late flourish from Emburey, the Middlesex batsmen seemed lost - no one more so than Mark Ramprakash, who looped a catch to short cover having scored only three.

There are many players in these two teams who will do much better than this during the summer. How fortunate that Haynes and Tufnell showed them how to do it. Without them the small group of devotees would have had hardly anything to talk about.