Notts trio squander England audition
Worcestershire 5 for 0 trail Nottinghamshire 243 (Hales 49, Jones 4-76) by 238 runs
One way or another, the onus was on Nottinghamshire to make a good impression, not least to avoid another public panning from their director of cricket, Mick Newell, who was decidedly unimpressed by a performance against Somerset last week from which they would surely have emerged without a single point but for the weather.
For three of their number there was also the presence of the England selectors, including Andy Flower, who had chosen New Road for a selection meeting ahead of the coming England Lions match against the touring West Indians, to concentrate minds.
But while they managed at least to secure a batting point in unpromising conditions - something they had not managed in their three matches hitherto, despite winning two of them - there was an inescapable feeling that they had not really done as well as they ought.
Given the wet weather of the last few days and the grip so far exerted by bowlers almost everywhere, 243 all out might not look too bad for a side invited to bat, but there was not a wicket to fall in which the victim was not party to his own downfall.
None of the top seven batsmen was at the crease for less than an hour and yet none progressed beyond 49. And none was more frustrated, one imagined, than the trio in whom Flower and company would have most interest.
Alex Hales fell one short of a half-century. He and Neil Edwards, uncommonly, had given Nottinghamshire a useful platform, a luxurious one by their own recent standards, putting on 70 before the left-handed Edwards flicked a ball from Alan Richardson off his legs to short midwicket. There was an opportunity for Hales to take against a Worcestershire attack of whom he seemed to have the measure in hitting seven confident boundaries but then, trying to force Richard Jones off the back foot, he edged to second slip.
If Hales missed a chance, so too did Samit Patel and James Taylor, the others eager to impress but who were similarly wasteful, again after it appeared they had done all the hard work. After Michael Lumb had chopped on to Jones - with another poorly judged shot - Patel and Taylor put their heads together and applied themselves with due diligence for a dozen overs, which appeared to be precisely what was required.
But having given a solid exhibition of self-restraint for an hour and 48 minutes, Patel was suddenly tempted to carve at a ball from Richardson outside off stump and directed it straight to Michael Klinger at wide gully, the Australian taking a good catch above his head. Newell had told Patel without attempting to sugar the pill that 33 runs from his four previous innings had not exactly enhanced his claim on a place for England's first Test against West Indies and he is running out of chances.
Taylor, not selected in England's Performance Squad but captain of the Lions on tour this winter, batted for five minutes short of two hours, a large chunk of it during a stand of 46 for the fifth wicket with Chris Read, but moments after Read had been caught at the second attempt by Klinger at point, he chased a wide-ish ball from Aneesh Kapil to be caught behind for 38.
Those two dismissals came in a spell from the lively Kapil, an 18-year-old from an impressive crop of Worcestershire academy graduates, that yielded three wickets in four overs at a cost of only two runs.
Steven Mullaney and Andre Adams added useful runs to take the total beyond 200, the latter typically blasting a couple of sixes in his 17-ball 21, but it was difficult not to measure the whole as an underachievement. Worcestershire may be able to show that it was.