County Championship: Green track gives big-hitting Brown chance to dig in

Nottinghamshire 328 Warwickshire 13-0
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The Independent Online

Nottinghamshire felt they were robbed by a conspiracy of circumstances when Somerset denied them a place in the Twenty20 Cup final on Saturday. In the Championship, they have no intention of letting fate control their destiny.

Three home matches in their five remaining games gives them a better than even chance in that respect. Pitches primed to produce results leave something to luck but Nottinghamshire have lost only two four-day games here in two years and they have gambled on getting the best of a typical Trent Bridge strip in this game.

Early indications are that the strategy will pay off as they try to stretch their slender lead over Somerset and Yorkshire, the rivals still in genuine contention for the prize.

Winning the toss, they chose to bat on the green pitch. There was something in it for the bowlers – bounce and lateral movement – as they surely knew there would be, but Nottinghamshire have the batsmen to force the pace and the innings rattled along at four an over.

Warwickshire's hard-working attack were rewarded with acceptable frequency but the home side scored heavily in between, claiming three bonus points by the 77th over. Their bottom-of-the-table visitors, whose batting is fragile at best, knew they would have their work cut out, and dropping four catches has made their task all the tougher.

Ali Brown, the veteran plunderer who lies in wait for unsuspecting opponents in Nottinghamshire's dangerous lower order, emerged as their steady fulcrum in his 76 yesterday, although he reached his fifty off 94 balls, not exactly a dawdle.

Mark Wagh's 54 was the earlier highlight. The stylish strokemaker, who will be a loss to cricket when he retires to become a commercial lawyer next year, has a good record against his former county. In five first-class innings against them since his move here he has scored 378 runs, including two centuries.

Nottinghamshire's batting would be stronger still if only they could find a consistently productive combination at the top. Alex Hales and Matt Wood yesterday became the county's fifth opening partnership this season. No pair has managed more than 43 and that record was not improved yesterday as Hales, looking to force off the back foot, nicked a catch to Tim Ambrose.

Wood was similarly caught behind, hanging out his bat somewhat. Samit Patel, right on message, scored his first 28 runs in boundaries but edged Darren Maddy's first ball to second slip before David Hussey, who briskly picked up half a dozen fours, chopped on to Chris Woakes.

The ever-dependable Chris Read kept up the momentum with 45 off 52 balls, including two sixes – one streaky, the other less so – off Boyd Rankin, before Maddy produced a ball that slipped through low.

Warwickshire will rue their four dropped catches. The costliest were those that let off Hussey on nought, perpetrated by Rikki Clarke at first slip off Maddy, and Read on 11 by Maddy at mid-on off Imran Tahir.