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Jon Culley at Old Trafford
May 2, 2012
Lancashire 48 for 1 trail Nottinghamshire 169 (Patel 69, Chapple 4-44) by 121 runs
The first County Championship match at Old Trafford since the square was rotated 90 degrees was hardly less eventful than the last one at its former angle, upon which Nottinghamshire clinched the 2010 title 17 months ago.
The talking points all involved a different England player, and none of the storylines they generated was in any way contrived, which is not always the case. James Anderson suffered an injury scare, Stuart Broad landed himself in (another) potential disciplinary pickle and Samit Patel, who desperately needs some runs, managed to get some, shoring up an otherwise -- all too familiar -- dismal batting performance from Nottinghamshire.
In the event, what was feared to be a broken right thumb for Anderson turned out not to be and, provided the X-rays did not lie, England's principal fast bowler should be fine for the opening Test against West Indies, which begins on May 17. He had not played competitively since the second Test in Sri Lanka a month ago but bowled beautifully, sending down 17 exemplary overs that lacked only wickets.
He left the field first at the end of his 10-over morning spell, having moments earlier winced in pain as he fielded a drive from James Taylor off his own bowling. After his trip to hospital, he bowled a further seven overs between lunch and tea before another bang, more or less on the same spot, precluded any further activity.
"I felt I bowled really well and felt good so it's good news there is no real damage," he said afterwards. "It's pretty sore but I'll just have to man up and get on with it. If I carry on bowling like that the wickets will come."
Broad, whose enforced absence goes back six weeks to the calf strain that ended his Sri Lanka tour early, was also wicketless, but it was his one-ball innings with the bat that brought him unwelcome attention. Given out caught at short leg by Steven Croft as he attempted to sweep Simon Kerrigan, the left-arm spinner, he made it absolutely clear he disagreed with the verdict.
Broad is not without form, of course, in matters of dissent. He has twice been fined half his match fee for transgressions in Test matches and has gone close to being punished on other occasions.
This time he was convinced the ball had hit the ground before Croft scooped it up. Lancashire celebrated en masse but Broad waited for umpire Stephen Gale to consult Rob Bailey, his colleague at square leg, before reluctantly walking off, appearing to aim words at both Croft and Gale as he did.
Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire's director of cricket, believed Broad would escape censure on this occasion. He said: "Stuart has been to the umpires to explain his behaviour. He told them he felt it was not unacceptable and they have not come back to us to say that it was, so hopefully the matter is closed.
"We have looked at the replay and you can't tell [if it was caught cleanly]. You would like to go back to the days when Stuart might ask if it was a catch, Croft would tell him it was and he would walk off. But sadly I think those days have passed."
Gale encountered more dissent only minutes later when Graeme Swann, another England player making his first domestic appearance of the season, lingered in his crease after being given out leg-before to Kerrigan.
At least Patel made his news by doing what he set out to do. His was the batting performance of the day amid another Nottinghamshire innings characterised by batsmen underperforming, the only difference from their previous sub-par returns this season being that Chris Read won the toss and chose to bat.
With Glenn Chapple bowling as impressively as Anderson -- and getting wickets -- Nottinghamshire slumped to 16 for 3 and 50 for 4 as the veteran worked his magic. Even Read, normally their doughtiest fighter, succumbed to a poor shot. In this context, Patel's four hours-plus at the crease was a valuable vigil. He applied himself with the conviction he has to show to stand a chance of pipping Ravi Bopara - or Jonny Bairstow - to a place in the first Test team, although he was suckered a little at the end, hitting Luke Procter for one six but fatally going for another as Chapple dropped back the field.
The immaculate Chapple took 4 for 44, the hugely promising Kerrigan 4 for 45, although it is not all good news for Lancashire on the bowling front. Their allrounder Tom Smith who is playing his first match of the season after hamstring problems, pulled up after three overs with another injury of the same nature and will not bowl again in this match.
Lancashire are in a potentially strong position, nonetheless. Their openers put on 48 before Paul Horton was leg before to Andre Adams to the last ball of the day.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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