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Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

5-8 August 1998

Day 1: Notts hasten their own downfall

By Mike Beddow at Kidderminster

First day of four: Worcs (123-4) trail Notts (164) by 41 runs

DENIS JONES' lovingly tended pitches produced 22 individual centuries in 11 seasons after Worcestershire reinstated an annual fixture here in 1987. So this ought not to be a ground in fear of the ECB pitches consultant despite 14 wickets falling yesterday.

In descending order, the blame would be apportioned to irresolute batting, proficient swing bowling and safe catching.

Nottinghamshire have lost on all five visits here and bad habits persisted, with three wickets down at lunch and seven lost for 73 by tea. Paul Johnson played the one innings of authority, with 10 boundaries in his 43. But, like Jason Gallian and Guy Welton, he then found David Leatherdale at cover.

Bobby Chapman, once of Nottinghamshire, benefited from two of these dismissals and only Usman Afzaal, dropped at second slip but caught from the next offering, represented an unarguable victory for the bowlers. Misjudgment prevailed again when Chris Tolley, shouldering arms, and Paul Franks, hooking, departed in five balls from Phil Newport. Likewise, when Chris Read was run out. Graeme Archer lingered for 21 overs before edging a drive.

Two slip chances were then accepted in Franks' spell of two for 22 and another ended a spirited effort by Nathan Batson. But Tom Moody and Leatherdale did something for Kidderminster's reputation with a half-century stand.

Day 2: Moody relishes an occasional venue

By Mike Beddow at Kidderminster

Second day of four: Notts (164 & 100-2) trail Worcs (289) by 25 runs

TOM MOODY'S supporters in the southern hemisphere would not readily associate Western Australia's captain with considerable deeds on an English club ground. Yet of his 63 first-class centuries, he has made 12 in an entire career in Perth, compared with five on occasional visits to Kidderminster since 1992.

Previous hundreds at this once-a-year county venue were made in high-scoring draws but this season there is a better balance. In that context, Moody's 112, assembled in five hours until he was out making room to cut Paul Strang, could be of greater significance.

Worcestershire secured a lead of 125 - an injustice to a career-best performance of six for 63 by Paul Franks - and marginally retained their advantage by taking two wickets.

An unsuccessful defensive prod by Jason Gallian was followed by another airing of Guy Welton's potential, and when Stuart Lampitt trapped him on the crease, Usman Afzaal and Paul Johnson saw out the last 21 overs.

Franks, at 19, already has the physical strength to maintain sharp pace, and sometimes unsettling bounce, no matter how much is required of him. He bowled 30 overs and delivered something in most of his spells.

Breaking partnerships is an invaluable quality, as he did with David Leatherdale's back-foot force to point, Steve Rhodes' nick to the wicketkeeper and Newport's cut for Strang's third catch. The problem for Nottinghamshire was that these dismissals spanned nearly 60 overs.

Day 3: Johnson a new man

By Mike Beddow at Kidderminster

Third day of four: Worcs (289 & 29-2) trail Notts (164 & 401) by 248 runs

IN two-and-a-half years as Nottinghamshire's captain, Paul Johnson scored two Championship centuries in 42 matches. In a week since reverting to the ranks, he has made two hundreds in three innings.

In a nutshell, this outlines the welcome rejuvenation of one of England's most natural entertainers, and a reason for a fourth day for the sizeable crowds at Chester Road. Whether Worcestershire will welcome the extension is debatable after losing two wickets.

For the second time in the day, Chris Tolley seriously inconvenienced his former county by dismissing their Essex recruits, Elliott Wilson bowled for one and Nathan Batson, held behind the wicket for four.

There is even a danger that Worcestershire could waste another rejuvenation by a player with Trent Bridge connections. Bobby Chapman, who was released by Nottinghamshire two years ago, returned a career-best six for 105 only five days after taking five wickets for the first time in the AXA League.

Chapman twice claimed two wickets in an over but each time in the wake of a century stand. Johnson, with his flashing cuts and the sweetest of pick-ups for six, put on 111 with Usman Afzaal and 122 with Tolley.

Above all, Johnson's innings, as resolute as it was eye-catching with 18 fours, had to be tailored to a tricky situation and the extent of the support he received.

Afzaal had batted for 77 overs in the match when he fenced unconvincingly at Chapman and Graeme Archer went three balls later at second slip.

Tolley then played particularly well until he was caught at first slip from Phil Newport's fifth delivery with the new ball.

The end for Johnson was cruel, aborting a pull shot when a ball from Chapman kept horribly low, but there was more irritation for Worcestershire as Kevin Evans helped to squeeze 68 from the last two wickets.

Chapman has now taken 18 wickets in four matches since regaining his place and said: ``Now I am back in the team I hope to keep going for as long as I can.''

Day 4: Tolley reaps just reward By Mike Beddow at Kidderminster

Nottinghamshire (164 & 401) beat Worcestershire (289 & 186) by 90 runs

THE modern line of Kidderminster's sporting sons probably begins and ends with Chris Tolley. Unlucky for Worcestershire, then, that the home-town boy targeted his native county for a career-best seven for 45. Galling, too, that once he was one of them.

The seeds of Nottinghamshire's victory - ultimately a convincing one by 90 runs with 46.4 overs in hand - were sown when Tolley took two wickets in 15 balls on Friday. At 29 for two, a 277 target seemed a long way off.

By yesterday morning, Tolley harvested the crop with three more in 13 balls. Game over, unless Worcestershire's lower order could perform spectacularly. After an hour they were 54 for five, at lunch it was 87 for seven, and shortly after 3pm they had capitulated for 186, Phil Newport an honourable exception, unbeaten on 45 from 50 balls.

A lousy finish to a bad week, which started with two spankings by Yorkshire, including a championship dismissal for 94, and a miserable month covering five defeats in all competitions.

Nottinghamshire, on the other hand, may be dragging themselves out of the treacle. To win so well from 125 behind on the first innings was a substantial achievement, not to be cluttered with, or diminished by, Worcestershire's apparent disarray.

Paul Johnson's 139 in Nottinghamshire's 401 at the second attempt was the first of two match-winning performances. Tolley's was the other and demandingly accurate.

Nightwatchman Matthew Rawnsley lasted for 40 minutes yesterday before an inside edge squeezed on to his stumps for the first of seven wickets in a little over two hours.

Vikram Solanki played a disappointing shot to square leg - his third duck since being capped last Sunday - and Tom Moody's deflection behind the wicket was probably the end of his side's challenge. It also completed Tolley's third five-wicket return for Notts to go with another before he left Worcestershire in 1995.

Kevin Evans accounted for Philip Weston, pushing forward, and David Leatherdale, attacking outside the off stump, before lunch. Next, Steve Rhodes clattered Paul Franks to backward point and it was 134 for nine with Tolley's sixth success, Stuart Lampitt leg before for 24.

Everyone would have been home for the football kick-off if Newport had not delayed the seventh, Bobby Chapman taken at short leg, in a last-wicket stand of 52.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 09 Aug1998 - 10:25