Cricket: Robinson on a slow roll

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The Independent Online
South Africa 327-6 and 25-1

Nottinghamshire 218

THE NOTION that dull matches are a thing of the past requires revision if this match can be taken as evidence. After a day of unrelenting tedium and little apparent purpose, the South Africans lead by 134 with nine second innings' wickets standing. A positive finish is possible today, but only if the players are interested in one.

The sponsors, Tetley Bitter, anxious to attract more spectators to these games, must have despaired at the unambitious manner in which Nottinghamshire batted yesterday. No one was more culpable that Tim Robinson, who does not score highly for entertainment value even in his most positive moods.

Here he was boredom personified. His innings of 82 in almost five hours could be called chanceless in that he almost never took one. During one particularly agonising passage he managed one scoring stroke in 21 overs.

Paul Johnson, who padded up to Brian McMillan after hitting 25 at a pace that was electric by comparison, said that the ball had not come on to the bat in a way that facilitated free strokes, although the sun was shining for a long time before Robinson finally nicked a catch to slip off Tim Shaw's left- arm spin.

The South Africans diplomatically pointed to the number of youngsters in the Nottinghamshire side who, perhaps, were not competent enough to take on the bowling, although it has to be said that they were not given much encouragement.

Mathew Dowman, the 20-year- old famed, more so than he would like, for a world record youth Test innings of 267 last summer, reached 20 in his third first-class innings without betraying much fluency before being yorked by Pat Symcox, the off-spinner. Lindsay Walker spoiled his debut by stepping on his wicket before he got started.

The tourists confessed that the declining pace of the game had sapped the enthusiasm with which on the first day they had scored 327 in 78 overs. Perhaps there is less for them to play for, the chance of winning Tetley's pounds 25,000 jackpot having already gone.

It seems unlikely, too, that any of the five players in this team who did not appear in the first Test will win a place at Headingley next week, barring injuries.

Leicestershire hope to sign Hansie Cronje, the South Africa all-rounder, as their overseas player for next season as a replacement for Phil Simmons, who is likely to be in the West Indies party for their tour of England.

(Photograph omitted)