Munton makes the difference

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The Independent Online

reports from Trent Bridge

Nottinghamshire 166 Warwickshire 139-2

Warwickshire found both the Trent Bridge pitch and Nottinghamshire's batting somewhat variable in quality yesterday, and it did their Championship prospects no harm at all. The unwavering accuracy of Tim Munton served them best and his 5 for 37 took his haul of wickets to 38 in nine games since he returned after a back operation.

While the ball was new and the pitch had a greenish tinge, Allan Donald's pace nipped out both openers but it was Munton who took the important wickets of Paul Johnson and Chris Cairns in successive overs and his figures for his final spell said it all for him: 11-5-16-4.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson and Cairns were the only home batsmen able to put bat to ball with any positive intent on a pitch which may turn out to have more of a past than a future.

Its dry and cracked surface produced a lowish bounce which made timing far from straightforward. Apparently Ron Allsopp, the groundsman, was so concerned about being unable to prepare this pitch properly because of the fifth Test, which finished only on Monday, that he thought long and hard about even using the five-day old Test pitch for this game.

In these conditions Munton, operating as ever from close to the stumps, pins batsmen down by offering them no room at all. His first victim was Graeme Archer, though this was an everyday story of lack of footwork as he was leg-before playing half forward, which left Nottinghamshire at 25 for 3.

This was the seventh successive time that Dermot Reeve had lost the toss. It hardly seemed to matter when Colin Banton was soon fourth out, cutting at Ashley Giles's quicker ball, but Johnson and Cairns eventually not only located the middle of the bat but used it with great vigour to add 84 in 21 overs.

Such a forthright approach deserved a rather more fortunate ending than Johnson experienced. Shaping to drive Munton, he hit ball and ground at the same time and was caught at slip. Munton then nipped one back to remove Cairns and nothing much happened to bother Warwickshire after that.

Even so, they must have expected to have to graft hard for their runs, especially when Nick Knight was undone by Andy Pick's change of pace. But the combination of left and right-hand batsmen seemed to unsettle Nottinghamshire's bowlers (and some of their fielding for that matter). Dominic Ostler's 47 included 10 fours and a six extracted from variations in line and length and, along with Wasim Khan's accomplished half-century, left Warwickshire more healthily placed than they probably dared hope.