Durham defied

Durham 455 Notts 269 and 211-0
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The Independent Online
Nottinghamshire have shown two sides to their character here, much to the dismay of Durham, who seemed to have established a platform of some strength only to discover that it was built on sand. Forced to follow on 186 behind, Nottinghamshire closed the day on 211 without loss, having turned a crisis into a position from which they might even map out an improbable victory.

The afternoon and evening were periods of grim and unrewarding toil for Durham's bowlers, who were woken rudely to the realisation that their earlier successes had owed rather more to negligent application on Nottinghamshire's part than to any virtues of their own.

The pitch offered no noticeable help to anyone, allowing Tim Robinson and Paul Pollard to progress in such serene comfort that Durham, bullishly raucous in the field before lunch, scarcely offered a word between them later, save for the odd frustrated groan. Not that there were many of those. Robinson's 60th first-class hundred contained hardly an error, let alone a chance, an essay in the art of stout defence and controlled aggression. So much for the idea that Durham might win by an innings, as they had at Chester-le-Street last September, a result that enabled them to dodge the wooden spoon and stretched Nottinghamshire's end-of- season slump to six consecutive defeats.

A repeat looked distinctly possible here at Friday's close with Durham's first-innings total looking formidable against Nottinghamshire's paltry reply: 455 against 194 for seven. But Durham began to lose their grip from the outset yesterday. Although they were not long in removing Mark Bowen, caught at long-leg off Jon Wood, they needed the best part of an hour to break up a troublesome partnership for the ninth wicket, in which Kevin Evans and Andy Pick took runs off Wood and James Boiling, the off- spinner, at five an over. They added 63, getting within 39 of beating the follow-on before Mike Roseberry at last recalled Simon Brown, who had taken three wickets the previous evening, the first in front of the watching England coach, David Lloyd.

Now Brown dismissed Pick, caught in the gulley, in his second over and had Andy Afford taken at forward short-leg in his next to finish with five for 70, extending his tally as the country's leading first-class wicket-taker to 30. He has designs on an England place, should a left- arm seamer be required against India on Thursday.

The follow-on began at 12.40, presenting the Nottinghamshire openers with two awkward passages to negotiate, which cannot have been helped by the pickle the ground staff made of covering up during a hailstorm that extended the lunch break by 50 minutes. But nothing was to inhibit either Robinson, whose 125 included 18 fours, or Pollard, who reached his half-century off 139 balls before taking a back seat to his former captain.

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