Notts pitch a tale of woe

Northants 601-9 dec Notts 359 and 176-4 Match drawn
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Precisely what the Nottinghamshire Committee discussed at their monthly meeting last night remains between four walls.

Pitches and poor performances were matters demanding immediate attention. Any other "business" would have been especially interesting because Nottinghamshire are not doing it and are down table at present. They salvaged three points, plus bonuses, with a total lack of conviction.

Had 27 overs not been lost to rain yesterday, Northamptonshire might have forced their first Championship win this summer as a joyous prelude to today's Benson and Hedges Cup semi-final against Warwickshire at Northampton.

Nottinghamshire, following on for the second successive match and threatened with their eighth Championship defeat in 11 without a win (stretching back to last July), also survived through the calmness of Paul Pollard, whose match aggregate of 98 runs occupied a remarkable 128 overs.

Rob Bailey, Northamptonshire's new captain, over-delayed the introduction of the leg-spinner Andy Roberts until the 42nd over. He could have also tried his own off-spin earlier because enlisting the seamers Tony Penberthy and David Capel was not exactly the way to win this match.

John Emburey took the wickets of Tim Robinson, caught at short leg, Graeme Archer, taken at slip, and Pollard, chopping on to his middle and off- stumps. Pollard, whose 40 spanned 199 balls, had been dropped, crucially, on Saturday evening by Emburey at first slip off Curtly Ambrose.

As for pitches here, this one was lifeless. Frank Dalling, the new groundsman, worked 25 years with Ron Allsopp, the Titan of Trent Bridge turf for 41 years, before taking over his role this summer. Four Championship draws have put Notting- hamshire and Dalling into a curious spotlight to which they are not accustomed.

Their surfaces have not induced the "bore draw" scena- rio for many a long summer. Nottinghamshire finished this game still 66 runs behind. Pride intact, just, while Northamptonshire's target is Lord's.

Maybe, if Bailey's team could score their runs more quickly in the four- day format to allow maximum bowl-out time, they would have hopes of winning the title for the first time in their history. Over recent years, the best sides, Warwickshire, Essex and Middlesex, have done just that.

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