Cricket: Robinson holds the fort with century duty: Mike Austin reports from Edgbaston

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Nottinghamshire 347-6 v Warwickshire

THE rare, the predictable and a striking seam-bowling performance from Mickey Bell, the Warwickshire newcomer, merged into a sunlit day with a sting in the tail.

Allan Donald provided it by dismissing Kevin Evans and promptly apologising for the ball to Tim Robinson, the Nottinghamshire captain and non-striker, who had just scored his third championship hundred of the season. Donald held up his hands to indicate that a near-beamer which Evans fended off at chest height was accidental. It found the edge and Dominic Ostler held a stunning, right-handed, lunging catch at second slip. If Evans plays until he draws a pension, he could not be out more unluckily for a duck.

To those who know Robinson, his contribution was eminently logical because he is a team man. On a far from easy pitch, he had to play an anchor innings. In terms of character and experience, there was no one else to do so in a side lacking four Test players past or present, notably Chris Broad through a broken hand. Other absentees included Chris Cairns with strained stomach muscles, Chris Lewis, the England all-rounder and, on the bowling front, Andy Pick, Eddie Hemmings and Kevin Cooper. Robinson's only previous century at this ground was for England against Australia in 1985 when he made 148, one of his four Test hundreds.

His 45th first-class century, off 223 balls, and second in a week, was not one of his prettiest, but it did the job, along with an innings of 66 from Mark Saxelby, deputising for Cairns. They added 152 in 43 overs, the bedrock of full batting points.

The 24-year-old Bell, West Bromwich-born of Jamaican and Austrian parents, had taken 3 for 21 in 34 deliveries, Bell dismissing Paul Pollard, caught at the wicket, Paul Johnson leg-before, second ball, and Derek Randall, taken at fine leg off a miscued pull.

For Warwickshire the day held promise, but unfulfilled achievement. Robinson, dead pan and sometimes with a dead bat, saw to that by passing 150 for the 12th time in his career.

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