Hardy Hegg on the boil

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Notts 452 and 187-4

Lancashire 397-9 dec

Some committed cricket from both sides in the morning session, while lacking somewhat in entertainment, changed the complexion of a match which, after the first two days, looked to be en route to a draw.

On the evidence of yesterday's showing, the pitch has nothing to offer the bowlers and the Nottinghamshire attack appears ill-equipped to bowl out Lancashire without some help from the batsmen. With his team already 242 ahead, Paul Johnson will have to make his target sufficiently encouraging, rather than inhibiting.

It did not need umpire John Hampshire's white bobble hat to tell anyone that it was a bitterly cold morning. The spectators had come prepared for it, and from the way Nottinghamshire went about their work it was apparent that they did not fancy being too long in the field. By lunch they had sent back six Lancashire batsmen and, courtesy of two wickets in two balls by Andy Pick, gained their fourth bowling point - a worthy performance on a pitch void of life.

That they came within 55 runs of Nottinghamshire's first- innings 452 owed much to a pugnacious half century from their wicketkeeper, Warren Hegg. Coming straight after his career-best 134 against Leicestershire last week, yesterday's unbeaten 65 off 134 balls was a timely reminder to the selectors as they gathered to choose the squad for the one-day international.

With India's spinners in mind, Hegg's quick footwork and quality timing was particularly rewarding. Making good use of his crease area, he drove and squared powerfully, hitting 10 boundaries in all. He and Steve Elworthy added 61 for the eighth wicket, and then with Gary Keedy, Hegg frustrated Nottinghamshire in an unbroken 50 partnership for the last wicket.

At the start of play, Lancashire's hopes had rested mainly on Neil Fairbrother. He reached 50 in the third over with a cover boundary off Chris Cairns and then struck the New Zealand fast bowler for two more. His first century of the season was denied him, however, by a lovely piece of bowling from Andy Afford, the pick of the Nottinghamshire bowlers.

His flight lured Fairbrother down the pitch, and the late dip had the left-hander heaving in ungainly fashion to mid-wicket. In the first over of the day, Afford had removed Glen Chapple, the nightwatchman, and he later had the Lancashire captain, Mike Watkinson, caught at slip via the wicketkeeper.

When Nottinghamshire batted again, Peter Martin quickly avenged his first- ball dismissal by Pick, trapping Paul Pollard leg before in the opening over. And Elworthy, Pick's first victim yesterday, was also quickly into the fray, having Graeme Archer lbw in his first over and later beating Tim Robinson's expansive drive. However, Johnson and Ashley Metcalfe took the initiative with a century stand as Lancashire and the day faded in equal measures.

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