Cricket: Pretenders play a cautious game

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The Independent Online
Leicestershire 318; Nottinghamshire 145-2

IT MUST be hoped that this match will provide a twist in its tale because its formative sessions have produced a distinct lack of excitement, apart from the rare sight of seven Leicestershire batsmen bowled in their first innings.

Games reaching county boundaries, such as this one, together with Warwickshire and Worcestershire, among others, may not quite have the ethos of Yorkshire playing Lancashire but the northern theory of 'give now't away' prevails, no matter the accent, or the venue.

Somehow, from the base of 181 for 3 overnight, Leicestershire lost five wickets for 27 runs in 12 overs, the catastrophic collapse which is precisely why their Championship challenge may fail.

Neither team resembles title-winning material, despite Leicestershire's accommodating fixture run in against much lower-placed counties, alongside their current stability of third place. Nottinghamshire, seventh, need their prime assets firing and Chris Lewis dropping Vince Wells, on 22, off a sitter at slip from the bowling of Kevin Evans scarcely gave that impression.

Greg Mike confirmed his own status as a fervent tryer, rewarded with four wickets while Andy Afford had a curious time, patently failing to find line and length before bowling Wells and Paul Nixon.

As for Nottinghamshire, both Paul Pollard and Tim Robinson were caught hooking. It has happened far more often to Pollard in a much shorter career. Robinson was taken at the wicket off a glove, having scored the fastest of the game's four half-centuries so far from 76 balls, and Pollard miscued to square leg.

Alan Mullally, fast left arm and England qualified, took both wickets, having bowled so well for his county against the tourists in the previous match that they could not comprehend how he is not playing for his country.

Mullally's 16 overs, bringing two wickets, cost 31 runs, an intriguing contrast with Lewis, who failed to take a wicket, underlining how his England winter tour prospects are receding by the day.