Dropped catches cost Notts dear

Worcestershire 253-7 v Nottinghamshire
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The Independent Online

Nottinghamshire have somehow managed to win their opening two matches without hitting their straps and there is every reason to suspect they might not find Worcestershire to be pushovers here after an opening day that shone rather more credit on the relegation favourites than the defending champions.

Mick Newell, the Notts director of cricket, makes no pretence about his side's strengths and weaknesses. In his own words, they are a "one-dimensional" team, heavily reliant on the depth and quality of their seam bowling resources and their ability to exploit conditions at Trent Bridge, which generally work in their favour.

It was the basis of their plans here when captain Chris Read won the toss and put Worcestershire in. But although Andre Adams, their most successful weapon last season and, so far, this one, added four more wickets to his tally, the collective effort was undermined by a bad day in the field, with four catches put down, three of them in the slips.

Given that the close fielders are seldom bored here as the ball habitually darts around, slip catching is the area in which Newell has every reason to expect exemplary execution. So had any of his players glanced towards his window in the pavilion they would have seen a face like thunder as Alex Hales and Neil Edwards took it in turns to drop Gareth Andrew off Charlie Shreck, and Hales missed another opportunity, when Matt Pardoe's drive against Luke Fletcher flew off the edge.

Mark Wagh then compounded Newell's displeasure by spilling the most straightforward of chances at mid-wicket, with Pardoe again the lucky batsman, although the coach was probably out-thundered by Paul Franks, the bowler, on this occasion.

They weren't cheap misses, either. Andrews, stuck on four with each of his escapes, added 44 before he hit a long-hop from Samit Patel, the left-arm spinner, straight into the hands of cover. Pardoe, having breathed again on 15 and 35, was 56 not out at the close and Worcestershire, having surrendered from a good position against Warwickshire last week, will not feel displeased with their day's work.

Pardoe, despite his moments of good fortune, looked impressive. The 20-year-old left-hander from Stourbridge is in only his third match but he looks well organised at the crease and strikes the ball cleanly. This is his second half-century and his best score to date.

His runs, with support from Andrew and then the veteran Australian Damien Wright, helped Worcestershire recover from a parlous position just after lunch, when they were rocking at 102-5 after having been 55-0 and Adams already had his four wickets, the last of which came with the help of a brilliant leg-side catch by the peerless Read behind the stumps.

There is no better wicketkeeper in the Championship, whether he is required to do the routine or the spectacular. It was a shame yesterday that his team-mates could not match his efficiency.