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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
July 18, 2012
Nottinghamshire 178 for 5 (Read 49*) v Surrey
Nottinghamshire do not care much for flat pitches that lead to dull draws. Their winning philosophy involves surfaces prepared with a more than even chance of a result, one way or another, the reasoning being that to chalk up enough victories to win the County Championship you have to risk the odd defeat.
Not that they lose too many on their Trent Bridge pitches, even when they have been five wickets down before lunch on the opening day. Recoveries engineered by their under-appreciated captain, Chris Read, are as common as top-order collapses. There is another under way in this match.
The signing of quality recruits such as Michael Lumb and James Taylor was supposed to bring stability to the batting, or at least limit the frequency of mishaps, but the pitch prepared for this match was revealed to have variable bounce as well as surface grass and Read must have feared it would be another day for his well-honed experience as soon as Surrey's latest captain, Zander de Bruyn, won the toss and chose to field.
De Bruyn was leading the side here, in the continuing absence, on indefinite compassionate leave, of Rory Hamilton-Brown, after the previous stand-in, Gareth Batty, was left out in favour of an extra seamer, which is an indication of how Surrey assessed the conditions.
There was no Chris Tremlett, recovering from back surgery, who played against Lancashire in a four-day match last week but was rested from this one, nor Jade Dernbach, who is still missing with the side strain that forced him out of England's one-day series against Australia.
But the seam quartet that was wheeled out - with Tim Linley and Chris Jordan added - took the first five wickets for 84 in 23 overs nonetheless, although it might be argued that they could have done so at a smaller cost, given that only Jordan conceded runs at fewer than four an over, giving the Nottinghamshire batsmen width to play with on both sides of the wicket.
They were helped by the vagaries of the bounce. Lumb's dismissal leg before owed something to the ball keeping low, Taylor edged one that climbed on him more than he foresaw and Alex Hales, trying to defend on the back foot to Jon Lewis, misread the ball sufficiently to inside edge it on to the ground and into his stumps.
In between, Samit Patel played a poor leg-side shot that had him caught behind off a thin edge as Nottinghamshire slipped from 35 without loss after five overs to 59 for 4 in the space of 11 more overs.
This followed an extraordinary opening in which Hales and Riki Wessels, who had shared an opening stand of 89 in 9.4 overs in a CB40 match against Hampshire on Tuesday evening, seemed intent on continuing in that vein, Wessels taking three fours in Lewis's first over before Hales took two more boundaries as Linley opened at the other end. Not surprisingly, this bold approach ran into trouble as Wessels, having rushed to 23 off 23 balls, edged Linley to first slip.
Taylor's dismissal ushered in Read to join Voges and what followed was the familiar story. Voges was missed on 5 without further addition to the score, which was a significant moment given that this Nottinghamshire side has a lengthy tail, but thereafter the pair took their chances without risking too much and added 34 in five overs up to lunch without further scares.
In the afternoon, they had to negotiate two stoppages for rain before the last one proved terminal -- limiting play to 42 overs - but maintained their concentration admirably and the partnership so far is worth 94 runs, which could prove invaluable if this match is a low scoring one.
They have rattled along, in keeping with the pace of the innings overall, scoring their runs off 108 balls. Read has 49 from 63 balls with eight fours. The Notts skipper clocked up 11,000 first-class runs for the county during the match against Middlesex at Uxbridge last week. He has compiled 63 first-class half-centuries in 225 matches for the county, turning 19 of them into centuries, and more often than not it has been in circumstances similar to these.
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