Hussain troubled by Smith thunder

Essex 130 Nottinghamshire 152-5
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The Independent Online

Faced with batting conditions in which Essex were dismissed for 130 here yesterday, Nasser Hussain was probably relieved that being out for one was his only disappointment. It would have been typical of the England captain's luck, a week away from the first Test against Sri Lanka, had he been obliged to make fresh acquaintance with one of the several hospitals he knows only too well.

Two years ago, on this ground, he suffered a broken thumb fielding, causing him to miss the second Test against the West Indies. With Greg Smith, Nottinghamshire's excellent left-arm quick, finding steep bounce as he thundered in from the Pavilion End in the first hour, Hussain must have been troubled by the odd negative thought.

He did take a thwack on the glove, although not serious enough to sound alarms. In fact, with Smith's deliveries tending to move away late as well as take off, Hussain was more intent on avoiding contact even with his bat. He was out to a thin edge when he failed to do so.

His wicket was the first of three for Smith in a destructive 10-over spell that also claimed Simon Grayson and Andy Flower as Essex, put in, lost their first four wickets for 35.

Only Ronnie Irani, the captain, managed to stick around for long, although this was in part due to his skill in keeping away from the troublesome end, where Aftab Habib did a fine job as the two put on 60 for the fifth wicket. Irani, dropped at 26, reached 37 before he shouldered arms to the last ball before lunch, which Nadeem Malik, a tall 19-year-old seamer, managed to bring back enough to have him leg before. Habib perished at the other end, edging to first slip as Andrew Harris claimed the second of four wickets.

Nottinghamshire go into the second day with a lead of 22 but have lost five wickets. Jason Gallian, dropped on 16, survived for 43 overs before Flower took a good leg-side catch, hitting seven fours in his 52. With the exception of Usman Afzaal, the others in the top five made starts only to get out.

Nicky Boje's strokeplay caught the eye on the South African all-rounder's county debut and it may be that the pitch attracts some scrutiny after 15 wickets fell in the day.