Stuttering Start For Notts CCC

It’s been a stop, start, stumbling season so far and we’ve not even hit the heights of summer yet. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club have returned to the top tier of domestic red ball action after winning the second division of the county championship last season but it’s not all gone to plan three and a third games in… There seems to be a lot of hard work still to do.

An eight-wicket opening match loss against Hampshire was followed by joy against Somerset and a 165-run win in blighty. Enter Lords, the weather, a declaration by captain Steven Mullaney which gave chance of victory, but also potential avenue for defeat, snatched in the end by a bold Middlesex scoring at a run a ball to edge a thriller with just a couple of overs remaining on the last day of four to go.

That defeat has left Notts looking up, seventh in the table on 29 points they are a clear distance below leaders Surrey, who’ll probably go on to win it as they did last year, but more worryingly a little closer to the likes of Somerset and Northants below them.

Another team below Notts, but level on points after three games played, Lancashire, in town this weekend to put that record right, themselves not having the best of seasons starts, failing to convert good positions into wins. At Trent Bridge on day one they were bowled out for just 214. Nottinghamshire shaky in return on a bowling wicket that offered short boundaries for batters, managing to get 245 with former red rose Haseeb Hameed frustratingly taken three short of his century on Friday afternoon.

Hameed has been a shining light in Notts batting department this season, he’s managed over 44 runs on average from his seven innings with Ben Duckett even better with his bat, 50 plus his return on average, but Notts haven’t always scored the runs within the team selected by Mullaney, Moores and co, they have only once made 300 in an innings and five of their seven innings thus far have been for under 250.

Pressure added to the green n golds bowling attack. Brett ‘the hitman’ Hutton has had a great start to the season with a six-for in the win over Somerset whilst Stuart Broad and Dane Paterson have also chipped in… Hutton taking 5/66 against Lancashire in the first innings, “he always takes wickets against us”, says a voice from the Lancs staff, giving Notts the chance to go build a response, a response which but for Hameed, was far from flattering.

The Friday afternoon sun in NG2 allowed Lancs to begin their second innings just 35 down and despite losing Wells for eleven off Fletcher they surpassed target with Balderson and Bohannon at the crease until stumps, Notts starting Saturday and day three 63 runs behind with nine wickets still to knock over before they could bat again.

During the second wicket partnership which rebegan after God Save The King was sung on the day of King Charles III coronation otherwise littered the air news, Lancashire started to pull away, under the clouds of Saturday morning, the duo of Balderson & Bohannon passed their fifties to set up a 160 lead before the rain clouds came and an early lunch was taken.

That lunch lasted until well past tea, 5pm the tie restarted and after an early dropped catch by Hutton it was Balderson who eventually gave in to the bowling of Stone for 91, Bohannon swiftly followed after a few minutes out for more rain, he went off James, like the previous wicket, caught by second slip Duckett, this time for 92, more frustration as the third batter in their nineties failed to crack on to their targeted century.

Play lasted a few minutes longer until another stoppage before another wicket, Dane Vilas who’s under pressure from the incoming next overseas star Darryl Mitchell, getting out for two after a first innings duck.

That left Lancs 219/4 overnight with a lead of 184 and six wickets remaining pitching into the final days play and Sunday, where the balance is between the two teams, pretty much level par, which is ironically how the two lie in the table on equal points after equal games played.

Notts will hope to finish off the middle order and tail and get out their opponents for 250 or less today, that will give the hosts a good chance of a run chase for victory, the likelihood maybe another draw. Of which between the two sides there’s been 109 in 238 previous matches, Nottinghamshire will probably take that more than Lancs, at this moment in time.

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @TrentBridge Lyndon James in action for Notts.

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