With Surrey seemingly poised for victory over Gloucestershire at Bristol on 10 July, Rixon, their coach, seemed to predict that the Championship was virtually in the bag. "Once we get to the top, I don't think anyone will catch us," he declared.
In the event, Alex Gidman's 142 stole Surrey's thunder, Harbhajan Singh had a spat with Gloucestershire's Mark Hardinges and the match was drawn, since which time Surrey have lost four matches out of six in all competitions.
Yesterday's performance here hardly augurs well. Graham Thorpe did not travel but this was no excuse at all for subsiding to 136 all out, as a result of which Nottinghamshire are now top of the table. The only home player not cheering wildly was possibly Chris Read, the injured wicketkeeper, whose troublesome ankle denied him a chance for a timely spot of selector-nudging.
Not that Read's mates did a lot better. Enough wickets fell in the day to prompt a pitch inspector to be mobilised but the umpires are unlikely to submit an adverse report, although they might have a few acid comments about the quality of one or two shots.
It was swing that proved the most potent weapon, particularly for Greg Smith, the Nottinghamshire left-armer, whose burst of three wickets in three overs yesterday morning yanked the rug from under Surrey.
In Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Harris and Mark Ealham, Surrey faced a swing quartet to which only Mark Ramprakash had an answer, the former England man occupying two hours and 41 minutes for his 42.
Nottinghamshire then lost Darren Bicknell to his brother Martin's first ball, caught at gully, before Russell Warren, Younis Khan and Jason Gallian all perished playing loose strokes. After David Hussey fell to Bicknell, Nottinghamshire could only limp into the lead.Reuse content