Morris fumble undoes Durham

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The Independent Online
MIKE CAREY

reports from Stockton

Durham 268

Nottinghamshire 261-5

Notts win by 5 wickets

As Durham lurched to defeat here with seven balls remaining yesterday, they may well have remembered the tale of the hare and the tortoise. Whereas they had contrived to lose their last seven wickets for six runs in 13 deliveries, Nottinghamshire were mostly able to bat with a sedateness more in keeping with a four-day game until, with wickets in hand, they threw the bat effectively to reach their target.

An opening partnership of 103 at four an over by Tim Robinson and Paul Pollard saw to it that, initially, Nottinghamshire were never under pressure, though the scenario might have changed dramatically later had Paul Johnson been caught on the midwicket boundary by John Morris off Simon Brown.

At that point Nottinghamshire still needed 91 from 11 overs. Alas for Durham, Morris could not hold a straightforward catch and Johnson grew in assurance so much that he made 49 off the next 32 balls which did much to turn the match.

Johnson is renowned as a destroyer of slow bowling so it was bold of Durham to use James Boiling, their off spinner, near the end, particularly with one short boundary. This was on the off side for him, but Johnson still managed to get inside him to lift him for six over extra cover when 47 were required from seven overs.

That blow, along with several others from Chris Cairns, who made 46 from 33 balls, left Durham's attack with no real margin for error on this pitch. Cairns has plainly inherited his father's ability to hit the ball vast distances and once, when Manoj Prabhakar surprised him with a full toss as he came down the pitch, he not only middled it but hit it out of the ground.

For Durham Wayne Larkins, Prabhakar and Morris all made half-centuries but none of them stayed in to supervise the assault in the closing overs.

Prabhakar showed that he will give a welcome ballast and balance to Durham's often quirkish stroke players; but he too can improvise with the best of them as he showed by lifting Cairns for six with a controlled slash over the square third man boundary.

Larkins had played one of his more sober innings until he was leg before playing half forward while Morris's 50 from 34 balls seemed just what his side needed until he went down the pitch and missed in an attempt to assault Cairns, whose four-wicket haul allied to his later pyrotechnics made him the obvious man of the match.

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