Fraser leads Middlesex triumph

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The Independent Online

Nottinghamshire avoided an innings defeat, but only just. Forced to follow on 167 adrift on Thursday evening, they tumbled from 29 without loss overnight to 192 all out yesterday, leaving Middlesex clear to move off the bottom of the Second Division with scarcely the need to break sweat.

Nottinghamshire avoided an innings defeat, but only just. Forced to follow on 167 adrift on Thursday evening, they tumbled from 29 without loss overnight to 192 all out yesterday, leaving Middlesex clear to move off the bottom of the Second Division with scarcely the need to break sweat.

But for Paul Franks, the all-rounder, and David Lucas, who may in time deserve to be similarly considered, even that would have been unnecessary. Their partnership for the ninth wicket added 68 in 21 overs, Franks completing a 98-ball 50, with seven boundaries, before squirting a catch to square leg, Lucas walking off with a career-best 46, unbeaten.

Aided first by Andrew Harris, Franks pulled Nottinghamshire away from a deeper hole after Angus Fraser and Richard Johnson had ripped through the top and middle orders, benefiting a little from negligible bounce on a slow pitch but more from the home side's errors. Indecisive footwork and half-hearted strokes indicated that their confidence could have done with a lift also.

Fraser, twice on a hat-trick, finished the first match of his 36th year with figures of 3 for 39 and 6 for 64. He made the first inroads yesterday when Guy Welton and Jason Gallian fell in consecutive balls in the fifth over of the morning, and his pre-lunch spell yielded four wickets for 38, with John Morris and Chris Tolley both trapped in the crease.

This reopened Thursday's debate over whether the old workhorse should have been permitted to open the second-innings attack after spending time off the field injured, when Law 2.5 seemed to indicate he should not. The umpires said he could, although some wry comments issued from the home dressing room when he began with 13 overs off the reel, showing no sign of the knee and heel problems he had reportedly been suffering. Three wickets also for Richard Johnson and one for Phil Tufnell left Nottinghamshire 128 for 8 at lunch.

Nothing stiffened up over lunch, either, save for Franks' resolve, and Fraser finished with another two-in-two, dismissing Franks and then Matt Whiley. Three and a half overs were then all Middlesex needed to complete a 10-wicket win.

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