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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
May 18, 2013
Nottinghamshire 274 (Mullaney 68, Meaker 4-70) and 191 (Meaker 4-64) beat Surrey 207 (Wilson 49) and 144 (Burns 53, Franks 3-16) by 114 runs
Five matches, no wins, two defeats: Surrey's season already has the feel of an expensive failure, a tale of over-inflated expectations. Chris Adams, their team director, made reference to the impact of the season-ending injury to their captain, Graeme Smith, but made it clear, too, that it was time his squad began to deliver performances as a team in four-day cricket, rather than simply showing snapshots of their talent in disconnected moments.
Nottinghamshire have been slow starters themselves in the Championship but, in conditions that were suited to the strengths of their bowling attack - even one shorn of the mesmeric skills of Andre Adams - they had just enough weaponry to make sure that home advantage paid.
"It is a disappointing outcome because I think this time was the first time our bowlers as a unit have nailed it all season in a four-day game," Chris Adams said.
"It was a bowler friendly wicket, with good grass coverage and moisture content, good pace and carry and with the overhead conditions there has been plenty of action, if not the weight of runs you would like. But you expect that at Nottinghamshire and we have no complaints - we simply did not perform as well as the opposition.
"Yes, we did start the season with high expectations, but I was a player for 22 years and have been here five and in every one of those 27 seasons there have been high expectations of Surrey. This group - the players, the coaches and myself - share the same ambitions.
"But we are only five games in and, with the points system as it is, if you can follow two defeats with two wins you are right back in there. We felt we were - and are - a genuinely competitive side in all competitions.
"It has been a difficult couple of weeks, with Graeme going home, needing to regroup and with Gareth Batty taking on the captaincy. But if we can win our 40-over game tomorrow we will be top of our group and with a week then to address what we need to do in four-day cricket - not to just have fleeting moments in a game where we show what we are capable of but to put together a performance over four days, with bat and ball, that will get us over the line."
Nottinghamshire were always ahead in the contest and had set Surrey a daunting target of 259 to win. From 72 for 3 overnight they needed to reach the haven of lunch on the final day with no more than one or two more wickets lost to stand a realistic chance. As it was, they were eight down after Harry Gurney, the left-armer who now looks an outstanding prospect in four-day cricket, had effectively finished them off by dismissing Gary Wilson, Batty and Steven Davies in quick succession.
Before that, the two vital breakthroughs had been supplied by Paul Franks, 34 and in his 18th season with the county, whose appearance in this match had been something a personal triumph after beginning the season with the double-edged honour of being second XI captain.
Franks knew his opportunities this season would be limited but his form has been good enough to warrant selection as Adams continues to rehabilitate after a calf injury and his performance with the ball in the first innings persuaded stand-in captain James Taylor to turn to him rather than Ajmal Shahzad as first change.
Shahzad seems short of confidence - in Franks' words "still learning how to bowl at Trent Bridge". Franks, on the other hand, knows conditions here as well as anyone and it was he who shot the biggest hole in Surrey's hopes when Rory Burns, who had played with style and assurance in reaching 53 from 87 balls, was caught behind. Franks had been angling the ball into the opener's pads but then tempted him with some width and an expansive drive proved his downfall.
"It was good to be back in the side, absolutely," Franks said. "I've been here a long time and I've had to fight all the way through that time and I was made aware of the fact that I would have to fight for my place this year.
"But it was never the case, as has been written, that the club told me I could leave, it was more the other way around, of me wanting to know where I stood and what my options were.
"I didn't expect to be told I would play in every game but after such a long time in one place I just needed a bit of assurance that I was still wanted. The club were very honest with me and I feel happy with where I am, I'm just enjoying taking a bit of pressure off myself and savouring days like today."
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