Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher share four wickets before late recovery from eighth-wicket pair
Against an opponent without a win in this competition in 27 attempts. Durham might have fancied themselves to get their LV= Insurance County Championship season off to a positive start but they will feel the opening day here was one of wasted opportunities as wickets were lost at key moments, before a fightback of sorts from eighth-wicket pair Bryson Carse and Ben Raine.
Asked to bat first on a typical green-tinged early-season pitch, they recovered well from a stuttering start against a Nottinghamshire seam attack that looked potent even with overseas signing Dane Paterson not yet match fit after a long-term injury.
The returning Scott Borthwick’s second county debut ended in a four-ball duck but Alex Lees and David Bedingham each made half-centuries and Jack Burnham was well placed to match them if not do better. Yet none was able to progress.
“I think after being five for two to be still batting at the end of the day we would take that,” Bedingham said. “On the other hand we were also 144 for three at one stage, so you could look at the day in two ways. But in saying that it is early season and the ball was nipping around a bit so although we might not take the score after being five for two we can be happy and I think that last partnership between Brydon and Ben at the end made it just about our day.
“Having them at eight and nine is great because they can both bat higher and if they can push us towards 300 in the morning we will feel in a good position.”
The swift demise of Borthwick, surprised by a Jake Ball yorker that trapped him leg before, followed that of opener Mike Jones in the same over, the fifth of the innings.
Jones, who also failed to score, edged to third slip, where Haseeb Hameed held the catch at the second attempt, and Borthwick’s dismissal left Durham 5 for 2. Ball’s inclusion was something of a surprise given he had not played any warm-up matches after his involvement with England in India but 2 for 10 from his six-over new-ball spell was ample justification.
Otherwise, it was Durham’s morning until the last over, after Nottinghamshire had successfully lobbied to squeeze in an extra one before lunch. Bedingham, who had taken his opportunities efficiently in a 76-ball fifty, faced a decent ball from Luke Fletcher but seemed momentarily indecisive as he edged to wicketkeeper Tom Moores, ending an 88-run partnership for the third wicket.
Durham needed to graft after lunch, but Lees cashed in on a rare loose over from Ball with three boundaries to complete an 118-ball fifty that looked like a strong platform. Soon afterwards, however, he was wastefully run out as the non-striker, beaten by Joe Clarke’s pin-point throw to the bowler’s end after new partner Burnham had attempted a chancey second run to deep backward square off Lyndon James.
Burnham survived to reach 42 at tea but perished in the first over of the final session, caught behind on the leg side as he flicked at a delivery from Fletcher, after which Ned Eckersley and Stuart Poynter fell in quick succession, the latter a deserved wicket for a tidy display from medium pace allrounder James.
It was left to Carse and Raine to survive 16 overs against the second new ball and they have added 45 so far, dragging back some of Nottinghamshire’s advantage.
“It’s a good cricket wicket compared with what you often see at this time of year and I thought we bowled really well to keep them to this score,” Ball said. “We got wickets at important moments. The one just before lunch made it our session and the run-out of Alex Lees was a big one for us because he was playing really well and looked settled. You could see it gave us a lift and we got two or three more wickets soon afterwards.
“From my point of view, although I got through three sets of hand-warmers it was that cold in the wind, it was good to have the red ball in hand and get into a bit of rhythm. I have not had much cricket lately but I felt in good shape going into the match and it was good to get out there playing.”