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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
April 6, 2012
Nottinghamshire 118 and 355 for 7 lead Worcestershire 130 by 343 runs
It was as if the first day had never happened. In deficit rather fortunately by only 12 runs after Worcestershire pretty well matched them error for error as both first innings came and went, Nottinghamshire began the second day in the mindset they should have embraced at the start and were duly rewarded.
Diligence and application are too often neglected virtues among a generation of players seemingly in a perpetual hurry, which you assume was the gist of what Mick Newell had to say to his team at stumps on Thursday. Clearly they heeded the message.
They have a lead of 343, which is probably enough to launch their season with a win and allow them to look upon the first innings as an aberration, but not a costly one. The substance of the lead was supplied by Riki Wessels, with his first Championship century as a Nottinghamshire player, but the foundations were laid by the openers, Alex Hales and Neil Edwards, and built on to an extent by almost everyone.
Hales and Edwards opened together only once last season, when Nottinghamshire's continual head-scratching over who might do the job best led them to try nine different combinations at the top of the order, none of them successful.
The first wicket fell for less than 30 on 16 occasions and for more than 50 only five times. Hales and Edwards overtook last season's best when their partnership reached 89 and though it was ended five runs later, 94 is the highest opening stand for the county, amazingly, since August 2008, when Will Jefferson and Bilal Shafayat put on 157 against Sussex at Hove.
Hales, missed at second slip when offering a difficult chance on 6, fell eventually for 46, chipping to extra-cover when a ball from James Cameron stopped on him a little. Edwards, given a clear life on 30 when the ball popped out of Cameron's hands at cover, went leg before to Alan Richardson just before lunch for 48. The former Somerset left-hander has struggled to establish his place at Trent Bridge but has been in good form in warm-up matches and looks likely to stay in the side ahead of Karl Turner, at least for the moment.
Wessels, 26, similarly, has not yet made as much progress as he would have liked since his arrival here last year. The former Northamptonshire batsman would likely have sat out this match had Samit Patel not been in Sri Lanka with England.
Like too many others, he was guilty of carelessness with his dismissal on the opening day but went about his business with the necessary care and attention this time, although it helped him that he came up against a Worcestershire seam attack, Richardson apart, that could not find the consistency that had served them well on Thursday.
Wessels, driving with authority, reached 50 off 64 balls with six boundaries and added seven more in his hundred, which he completed from another 64 deliveries. It was his first century in the Championship since the last of his four for Northamptonshire, in September 2009.
He and Chris Read effectively took the match beyond Worcestershire's reach in a stand of 134 in 31 overs for the fifth wicket that ended when Read, whose 68 contained seven fours and an audacious six off Richard Jones, walked into a ball from David Lucas to be leg before.
Earlier Michael Lumb had been unlucky to find a good ball with his name on it for the second time in the match and James Taylor, his fellow winter recruit, completed a forgettable Championship debut by misjudging a ball from Richardson that had him leg before offering no shot. It is safe to assume, though, that there will be better days ahead for the gifted England Lions captain.
The tireless Richardson again bore the heaviest workload of the Worcestershire bowlers. Never one to shirk his duties, the veteran seamer averaged 42 overs in each of Worcestershire's 16 Championship matches last season, a total he will exceed in this one unless Nottinghamshire declare overnight. His third wicket, with the second new ball, raised his tally to five in the match, which was generally par for him in 2011. Worcestershire might be short of genuine assets right now but he is one, beyond argument.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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