Smith snatches a late victory

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP
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The Independent Online
BARRIE FAIRALL

reports from Bristol

Gloucs 389-3 dec and 187-4 dec

Notts 300-8 dec and 142

Gloucs win by 134 runs

Just to prove that old-fashioned three-dayers can still produce the goods, Gloucestershire came up clutching 23 points and their first Championship victory of the season yesterday. Following last Thursday's wash-out, though, it was a close-run thing in a straight fight here, just 4.4 overs remaining when Mike Smith won a leg-before decision against Andy Afford, Nottinghamshire's tail-end Charlie.

Smith finished with 4 for 51 and it was the left-arm seamer who had made the real inroads by taking out the front three of a limping line-up. Then again, Gloucestershire were grateful for the turn extracted by Martyn Ball, who sent down 19 overs of offspin for a 5 for 49 return.

Alas poor Nottinghamshire, triumphant over Derbyshire but showing signs of early wear and tear with their first five in the order carrying injuries. Only Kevin Evans, who top scored in both innings, and Bruce French, who resisted for 19 overs, made a fight of it in the middle order, while David Pennett hung in bravely at No 10 only to be left stranded on 25.

Gloucestershire may be missing Courtney Walsh, but they have had four straight successes in the Benson and Hedges Cup and they were cheered here by a record opening partnership of 362 between Tony Wright and Dean Hodgson. First innings work was then completed by a four-wicket haul from Javagal Srinath, the Indian Test bowler recommended to the club by Walsh.

Spirits were high yesterday after a few early alarms. While Evans accounted for Wright and Hodgson cheaply second time around and the score slipped to 59 for 3 at one stage, a stand of 85 in 22 overs between Bobby Dawson and Mark Alleyne dented Nottinghamshire hopes. Dawson, completing a half- century, next stood his ground with Andrew Symonds, whose blast of a six and four fours off 18 deliveries helped set Nottinghamshire a target of 277.

The target, though, was the last thing on the visitors' minds once Smith had gone to work by taking the scalps of Tim Robinson, Mathew Dowman and Graeme Archer and when Ball chipped in Nottinghamshire were reduced to 66 for 6.

Evans next hit across the line and was leg before to Ball right at the start of the final 20 overs and the off-spinner was on a hat-trick when Andy Pick was rapped on the pads. Pennett, though, survived only to run out of partners as Ball and Smith wrapped up the winning package between them.

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