Cricket: Russell hits 1,000 mark

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The Independent Online
SOON AFTER lunch on this hot and sunny afternoon, Jack Russell, with that inborn sense given to the great wicketkeepers, moved to the leg side to anticipate Tim Robinson's attempted flick off Jonathan Lewis, dived and took the ball snugly in his gloves. Up went the shout and Robinson, never a man to give his wicket away, trudged off, every step denoting his disappointment.

Behind him he left a scene of celebration. The catch was Russell's 1,000th in the first-class list, putting him seventh on the all-time roll (behind Bob Taylor, John Murray, Herbert Strudwick, Alan Knott, Brian Taylor and Jim Parks) and giving Gloucestershire the happy prospect of a victory that, come September, might be the difference between the two divisions. Nottinghamshire had lost their steadiest batsman and were still 28 runs behind and the pitch was offering the bowlers occasional bounce.

When Jason Gallian, surprised by a ball that lifted, spooned to gully, Nottinghamshire were still seven behind. Alas, from that moment, the story becomes slightly flaky. Gloucestershire were without the Australian Ian Harvey who, in the morning, had damaged an elbow in trying to sweep Richard Stemp and became the second player from this match, after Gallian, to be sent for an X-ray. As with the captain, he suffered no more than bruising, but his absence, on a pitch that would have suited his medium pace, was critical.

Usman Afzaal, with some handsome back-foot drives and Paul Johnson, bristling, saw off the seamers and then went about the two off-spinners and made 99 in 23 overs. Lewis and Jeremy Snape cut through the middle to restrict the lead and today's play could be a cliffhanger.

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