Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire

Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire at Trent Bidge May 20-23

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1
l the first of at Trent Bridge was sensationally halted seconds before play was due to restart.

Only 15.5 overs were possible on the day that Nottinghamshire welcomed spectators into Trent Bridge for the first time since September 2019 and guess what we had four interruptions two for rain and two for bad light and when play was supposed to restart at 6.15,  the umpires Alex Wharf and Billy Taylor found a damp patch on a length. The umpires immediately took players off and as they did rain started to fall heavily.

Before the game Nottinghamshire’s Ben Slater and Tom Moores received their county caps from former player Darren Bicknell and former Notts captain Chris Read. 

Slater, who came into the match with an average of 48,got off the mark when he guided Joe Leach to third man boundary which was greeted by the sound of loud applause from the spectators for the first time sime 2019. We have been missing that.

He looked in good form, as befits a player averaging 48, pulled a short ball from Dillon Pennington over the fine leg boundary for a six. By this time Worcestersire must have been thinking that he was going to repeat his performance of the first match at Worcester where  he hit an unbeaten 143 in the second innings and batted for 433 minutes. They were mighty relieved when Pennington came round the wicket and angled one in at him and found his edge which stumper Ben Cox easily caught for his first of three catches in the day.

Pennington said: “It was a relief to get him out after he had hit me for a six and it’s still going.”

That was at 11.45 the next ball was delivered at 2.55 when rain stopped play and 32 overs were lost. After 16 balls, bad light took the players back off and four more overs were lost.

In Alzarri Joseph’s first over he bowled two balls that forced Haseem Hameed to play and miss.  After the second restart Joseph got one to rear up at Hameed and touched the shoulder of his bat to Cox.

After Hameed’s dismissal, bad light again stopped play and another four overs were lost.  Five balls later Nottinghamshire lost their third wicket.  Pennington turned former Worcester player Joe  Clarke round and took the outside edge to give Cox his third catch.  Again the players left the field, this time  it was raining.

Worcestershire captain Leach started the day with a big wide tha Cox did well to take above Riki Wessels’ head at first slip.

Pennington added: “I don’t think I’ve hit my right length in the last few games so I came into this game trying  to hit a fuller length and I did.  Tomorrow is going to be a big day. If you put the ball in the right areas you are going to get the rewards. We are hoping for a cheap bowl out tomorrow and get some runs on the board.”

On receiving his cap Slater said: “I had no idea until my name was said and I am surprised that none of the lads blurted it out.  It’s been a proud and emotional day for me.  My dad wasn’t supposed to be here and when I saw him I thought he must have changed his mind.  If I had seen my mum  first I would have thought that there was something dodgy  going because she’s supposed to be at work.”

On the match Slater said: “We’ve got to get a good first innings score and let our bowlers loose at them and do what they have done in the last few games.”

Moores said: “To get my cap from Read was really a special moment for me. To have my family here was also very special and it’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Day 2
No play

Day 3

THE third day started with both teams playing for first innings points but by the end of the Worcestershire, weather permitting, will have to bat very well to get a draw.

Worcestershire had 17 overs to bat facing Stuart Broad and Luke Fletcher.  It took Nottinghamshire eight balls to get their first wicket,  when former Nottinghamshire player Jake Libby fended a legside ball  off to Ben Slater at short leg who took a spectacular one handed catch.

They lost their second wicket five overs later when Tom Fell tried to pull a short ball from Broad but gloved it and the ball looped to stumper Tom  Moores.  Five balls later and with no no addition to the score Dary Mitchell offered no shot to Fletcher and was out leg before.

Fletcher got his second leg before decision three balls later when  Brett D’Oliveira played down the wrong line. The big man got on a hat-trick when former Nottinghamshire player Riki Wessels became the third leg before victim of the over. Ironically in  his innings for Nottinghamshire he also got a duck.  He said: “On a hat trick ball you’ve got to calm yourself down and bowl your best ball.  It’s weird playing in front of a crowd again. I’ve a decent winter training an I’ve found myself in good rhythm.  All the team are feeding of each other. It’s been a great day for us. Anything’s possible in this game I hope we get enough time to put Worcestershire under pressure.”

Fletcher got his third five wicket haul in three matches when Jack Haynes missed a straight ball and was leg before.

A record Nottinghamshire’s fourth wicket partnership against Worcestershire of 205 in 59 overs between Ben  Duckett and Lyndon James Nottinghamshire ensured that Nottinghamshire got maximum batting points for the first time this season.  They beat the 157 made by James Taylor and Riki Wessels at New Road in 2015.

 After Friday’s play was washed out, play on the third day got underway 25 minutes late and another eight overs were lost.

Duckett reached his first Championship century of the season when he swept D’Oliviera to the square leg boundary.  As soon as hit it he set off for a single and leapt in the air with delight as he reached fifth ton for Nottinghamshire and the 19th in his career. Or maybe he was reflecting on the irony as two weeks ago he got a first ball duck on the same pitch.

His second fifty came from 70 balls which was slow compared to his first which came at a run a ball.  His third fifty came from 55 balls.  After he reached his century he dominated the Worcestershire bowlers and James didn’t score a boundary for 10 overs.

Surprisingly that although his first fifty came quicker he was in more trouble against the Worcestershire bowlers and he was squared up numerous times by Dillon Pennington, Alzarri Joseph and Josh  Tongue. Gradually he found his form and pulled Tongue to the mid wicket boundary to bring up his fifty from fifty balls in 69 balls with seven fours.  He was unbeaten on 177 when Nottinghamshire captain Steven Mullaney declared.

The combination of the left handed Duckett and right handed James began to drain the energy from the fielders as they kept rotating the strike forcing the fielders to change their places.  The West Indian Joseph was pulled by Duckett to the mid wicket boundary, four balls later Duckett slapped Joseph to the cover boundary.

22 year old James hit his third championship fifty of the season and they have all been at Trent Bridge.  He got off the mark to the cover boundary off Joseph.   He delightfully drove Tongue off his back foot to the cover boundary to take him into double figures.

James an elegant batsman, or is that batter,  cut Worcestershire captain Joe  Leach to the point boundary. But in the last few overs before lunch James suddenly looked all at sea as he couldn’t put bat to ball.  But he managed to still be there after lunch. After 10 balls the rain returned and six more overs were lost.

The lunch and rain break did him well and he looked a different player. He  threw everything at Leach to the extra cover boundary. A back foot punch off Tongue for three brought up his fifty from 112 balls in 142 minutes with seven fours.

Rain took the players off for an early tea and when they came back James tried to pull Mitchell but top edged him  to D'Oliveira at cover, by the time that D'Oliveira had taken the catch James was halfway back to the pavilion, falling one short of equaling his best score of the season. 

Mullaney into bat with intention to get to 400 and then declare, he hit two sixes in consecutive overs off Mitchell.  After his second  he tickled Mitchell to the fine leg boundary. He fiercely pulled Pennington to the mid wicket boundary.  After replacing Pennington, Leach found himself to be a victim of Mullaney’s onslaught.  Mullaney slashed hard at him which just evaded the diving Ben  Cox to bring up the fifty partnership, of which  Mullaney had scored 47 of them.

Mullaney hit his third six off Mitchell when he swept him over square leg and his fourth when he pulled a short ball over mid wicket.

Worcestershire finally broke the partnership when Mullaney top edged a pull off Tongue to Cox.  His 88 came from 73 balls in 82 minutes  and included eight fours and those four sixes.  Two balls later Nottinghamshire got the two runs to give them five batting points and then declared.

Day 4

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE beat Worcestershire by an innings and 170 runs to go top of group One in the LV  Insurance county Championship, nine points clear of second place Essex and it was their  third consecutive victory.

In the first innings the wickets were shared by Stuart  Broad and Luke Fletcher, in the second innings all the pacemen chipped in and Dane Paterson took four of the last five wickets to fall.

Nottinghamshire assistant coach Kevin Shine said: “It was an unbelievable team effort.  We never thought that the rain would definitely mean a draw, we were always  trying to take the game forward.  We knew that if we got 400 we had a chance.
I thought that Fletcher bowled a classy spell as anybody has and Broad is a great example to the younger players he wants to win.”

Worcestershire head coach Alex Gidman said: “It’s really disappointing to lose the match. It has been a tough couple of days, we were obviously miles off the pace yesterday which made it tough to wrestle back any sort of momentum.

You can’t fault the effort today to try and bat through the day in very tough conditions to get the draw but clearly the damage was done yesterday and we’ve got  to look at ourselves and try to improve very quickly.

We wanted to play as much as we could on that first day as we knew the forecast for day two wasn’t very good and the heavy roller seemed to do a ridiculous job and changed the wicket considerably going into day three. But having said that we didn’t build pressure like they did and we had a really positive lesson from Fletcher in terms of what we need to do and get better at in what was a high-class display on Saturday evening.

Jake Libby is becoming a really consistent performer and again he played very well in what were really tough conditions again. Brett D’Oliveira was outstanding, showing real fight and character, and he was gutted to get out.  But it is a team effort and we lacked that bit more we needed around them.”

It took Nottinghamshire 16 overs in 75 minutes to take the remaining four Worcestershire first innings wickets on the final day.   Fletcher finished the innings with best figures of seven for 37 as Worcestershire were dismissed for 80, their lowest score since they were dismissed by arch rivals Warwickshire at New Road in 2015 for the same score. Broad took two  wickets for nine runs in seven overs on the final morning while Fletcher took two for 17 in eight overs.

Worcestershire lost their first wicket of the day to the  14th ball of the day when night watchman Josh Tongue tickled Fletcher to Tom Moores. Alzarri Joseph pushed at Fletcher and edged him to Moores.

Worcestershire captain Joe Leach, who was unbeaten on seven, had a torrid time against Broad.  On two he edged Broad to Haseeb Hameed at third slip who couldn’t hold on to the chance.

Ben Cox, top scored with 19, but he edged a widish ball from Broad which Moores gratefully accepted.  In the next over Joe Clarke at first slip dropped a dolly when Fletcher found the thick edge of Leach’s bat.  Leach was sure that he was out and turned to walk to the pavilion.  The Worcestershire first innings was over when Ben Duckett at second slip took a good low catch moving to his right to give Broad his third wicket of the innings.

It was the third match in a row that Fletcher has taken five wickets or more in an innings.

After bowling seven overs Broad was given the new ball when Worcestershire followed on.  They should have lost their first wicket in the second over when Daryl  Mitchell on one, edged Fletcher and Haseeb at third slip should have swallowed it.  Moving to his left and coming at him at a comfortable height Haseeb spilled it.  But it wasn’t an expensive drop because in his next over Fletcher squared Mitchell up and edged him and Moores scooped for the catch.

On 18 Libby edged Broad but Moores couldn’t take the catch.  Libby drove Paterson to the cover boundary to bring up the fifty partnership from 102 balls. After putting on 56 in 18 overs with Libby, Nottinghamshire got the breakthrough they needed when Tom Fell clipped Fletcher off his legs to Ben Slater at short leg.  Three balls later Jack Haynes drove Fletcher straight back to the bowler, to give Fletcher 
10 wickets in a championship match for the first time.

A back foot drive by Libby off Paterson to the cover boundary brought up his fifty off 60 balls.  When Broad came back into the attack he bowled to a heavily populated legside field with six fielders on the leg side.  He peppered both Libby and D’Oliveira with short balls and eventually the plan worked when Libby clipped Broad off his legs to Paterson who took a low catch at square leg. Libby had batted for 131 minutes facing 80 balls. 

In the fourth over after tea former Nottinghamshire player Riki Wessels flashed hard at Lyndon James and Duckett took the catch at the third attempt with his right hand. The first attempt palmed it in the air then he juggled with it  before eventually taking the catch.

After surviving two leg before appeals from Paterson, Cox didn’t survive the third one and was out for a duck.

Worcestershire’s last hopes of surviving depended on D’Oliveira and he nearly did it.  He defied the Nottinghamshire bowlers for 110 minutes and faced 87 balls before he got a leading edge to Paterson and chipped it to Nottinghamshire captain Steven Mullaney at mid off.

Four balls later Broad strangled Joseph down the leg side to Moores.  Josh Tongue fended off a short ball from Broad which fell short of Slater at short leg. Tongue pushed forward at Paterson and lost his off stump.

The match was over Leach played down the wrong line to Paterson and was leg before. 

The foundations were laid on the third day by a Nottinghamshire record fourth wicket partnership between James and Duckett.  Duckett hit an unbeaten 177, his highest score for Nottinghamshire and he said: “It was special. The first year I was here I was awful.  To have the fans back and to put in a performance like that for them I felt really good.  But I know I am not going to do it every game.  In the past I would have lost my head but I’ve realised that I am not going to do it every day.  

During the innings I felt good and that’s down to the fact that I've probably been working harder than I ever had on my batting.  I was pretty fluent and I tried to be positive.  They didn’t bowl well in the first hour and we got off to a flier and they sent the sweepers out quite early.”

He also spoke about James: “I was gutted for him when he got out. I wanted him to get a century and I wanted to be out there when he got it.”


May 22, 2021 12:18 pm

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