Notts record final day victory

Nottinghamshire’s plan to make full use of home advantage on their return to Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship got off to the perfect start with a 165-run victory over Somerset.

On a typically bowler-friendly Trent Bridge, the loss of the whole of day two to rain proved no impediment to them as their West Country opponents, bowled out for 173 on Saturday, succumbed for 129 chasing 295 to win  midway through the final afternoon.

Dane Paterson, the 34-year-old South African who has proved such an astute addition to the county’s bowling unit, led the way again with five for 46, passing 500 first-class wickets in the process.

Brett Hutton, who played here only because of an injury to Luke Fletcher, increased his match haul to nine wickets and Stuart Broad picked up his first of the season as Nottinghamshire bounced back from their opening-round defeat away to Hampshire. Somerset, who had escaped with a draw in their opener against Warwickshire at Taunton, could find no way out on this occasion.

Ultimately, in a low scoring contest in which only three batters passed fifty, they paid the price for failing to make the most of conditions on day one, when skipper Tom Abell put the home side in but had to wait 33 overs for his bowlers to take a wicket.

Yet Somerset had been hopeful at the start of Sunday’s play, optimistic that if they could claim Nottinghamshire’s remaining second-innings wickets quickly they would have a target their deep batting line-up could chase.

In the event, they achieved the first part of the plan in the space of six overs as Nottinghamshire were dismissed for 211 in their second innings with all-rounder Lewis Gregory adding four wickets to his seven from the first innings to finish with 11 in a match for the third time in his career.

Peter Siddle, who was wearing Nottinghamshire colours the last time Somerset lost a Championship match on this ground, took the first of those as Steven Mullaney top-edged to mid-off. Broad lost his off-stump to Gregory before Hutton holed out to deep square leg.  Tom Moores was unable to bat after suffering a hand injury keeping wicket on Saturday.

It left Somerset with 19 overs of the first and the whole of the last two sessions to chase the 295 needed. A required rate of 3.35 runs per over was none too daunting. In terms of runs, they remained on track at lunch. By that point, unfortunately, they had lost their top four batsmen.

Hutton dismissed Tom Lammonby and Tom Abell leg before in very similar fashion, achieving just enough movement to beat their defensive bats and hit them plumb in front.

Sandwiched in between were Broad’s first moments of celebration in the 2023 English season, the first after Australia’s Cameron Bancroft lost his off stump to a beautiful delivery, angled in and straightening enough to pass the edge. He followed up with Sean Dickson in his next over, the former Durham man’s indifferent start with his new county continuing as he edged a drive to second slip, where Ben Duckett took a fine, diving catch.

Soon after lunch, 48 for four became 58 for five as Dane Paterson picked up the first of his wickets, Tom Kohler-Cadmore having no answer to a superb delivery that took a thin edge claimed by stand-in wicketkeeper Joe Clarke.

Gregory was leg before to another excellent ball from Hutton before two third-slip grabs by substitute fielder Calvin Harrison in the same Paterson over accounted for James Rew, taken high off the shoulder of the bat, and Craig Overton, snatched up low off the edge in another dismissal that needed an umpire consultation to give confirmation, leaving the batter apparently unimpressed.

Paterson completed his five-for by dismissing Jack Leach, who skied to cover, and Siddle, who hit straight to mid-off, finishing the job for his side just before ten past three – in plenty of time for Broad and others of the red persuasion in the Trent Bridge dressing room to cross the road and hope home advantage would also work for Nottingham Forest in their crucial fixture against Manchester United.

Nottinghamshire skipper Steven Mullaney said:

“Losing the toss here is always going to be tough and I think the Somerset bowlers would admit that they bowled a little bit short in that first session on Thursday and that helped us get off to a good start

“But what happened after that showed how quickly things can change. From 125 for none we lose 10 wickets getting the next 125, but we thought in the conditions that 250 was an above par score. It was a great cricket wicket where there was enough in it for the bowlers if they put it in the right areas but if they didn’t bowl well you could capitalise on it and score runs.

“It was a game where 30s and 40s were really important. Those kinds of contributions don’t get noticed in the averages but they are sometimes really underestimated and that passage of play last night where myself and Brett (Hutton) were able to get us towards 200 was really important, because I always thought a target of around 300 would be too much for them.

“And then we had some outstanding performances from the bowlers. Stuart (Broad) started the game well and didn’t get the rewards he deserved and then today produced two beautiful balls to get wickets and looked in great rhythm.

“Brett was unlucky not to play last week and Luke Fletcher would have played this week if he was fit, but he has come in and taken his chance with the ball and the bat.  He is coming to the part of his career where he is at his peak. He is a very skilful bowler and Stuart sets the tone on that front, always wanting to improve and not resting on his laurels and Brett has done that.

“And in Dane (Paterson) we have a fantastic bowler. He probably didn’t bowl as well as he could today but if there is something in the pitch he will find it.

“Home advantage is going to be important for us. We prepare the wicket in the same way whoever we are playing because we feel it is our best chance of taking 20 wickets, while our batters know the conditions here and we back them to get enough runs to win the game.”

Somerset skipper Tom Abell said:

“Notts got off to a brilliant start and played extremely well in challenging conditions on the first morning but I think we have to accept that across the three or four days they probably outperformed us with the bat and the ball. We were always playing catch-up after the first day.

“We didn’t hit our straps soon enough, although I felt the way we fought back on day three, particularly with the ball and in the field, to stay in the game was brilliant from our lads.  But in testing conditions from a batting point of view I don’t think we reacted well enough.

“There was pretty considerable movement, although that’s not a bad thing and certainly not an issue. There was quite a bit of movement off the seam and the swing exaggerated it.

“It creates a slightly different game in which as a batting unit you have to find different ways of putting the opposition under pressure rather than just letting them bowl at you. But full credit to their bowlers. They bowled it slightly fuller and asked us questions on the front foot, where we were perhaps a little bit slow to adapt to the right lengths.

“We probably didn’t have a huge amount of luck at times in that we beat the bat a lot and there were a few half-chances that we didn’t take, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

“There were some good things to take from the match in that Lewis Gregory was brilliant with the ball. We also had a few injury issues during the game and the way he put his hand up and led the bowling was a testament to him as a character.

“We’ve not started the season well and confidence is such a big part of cricket. You want to get a good win under your belts early doors. The important thing now is that we trust ourselves to bounce back against Lancashire in our next game.”