Nottinghamshire v Surrey, Trent Bridge, 1st day May 15, 2013

Mullaney averts Notts crisis

Jon Culley at Trent Bridge

Nottinghamshire 273 for 9 (Taylor 47, Mullaney 68, Meaker 4-70) v Surrey

Nottinghamshire would be attracting as much attention as Surrey for reasons they had not anticipated but for their points tally having been inflated by a win over Derbyshire.

Neither side has shown much so far to justify pre-season optimism yet they produced an opening day of compelling intensity that suggested better to come from both. Surrey claimed three bowling points but Notts fought back well in the final session, or at least Steven Mullaney did.

Mullaney stepped in neatly where Notts usually look to Chris Read as the man to pull them out of a tricky spot. They could not on this occasion as, rarely, their wicketkeeper and captain is injured, which might be mentioned merely in passing but for the fact that Read had not previously missed a Championship match since he was trying to forge a Test career in 2006. He had made 98 consecutive appearances since the start of the 2007 season and there was talk of a presentation being made had he completed a century. Sadly, a nagging neck injury has put paid to that.

In his absence, therefore, someone else had to step up after Notts, asked to bat first, had struggled to 181 for 7 as a Surrey attack, in which there was no place for Chris Tremlett, made them work hard for runs, even on a pitch that looks essentially sound.

Mullaney, who has shown before that he has something of Read's doggedness in his mindset, provided what was required in an eighth-wicket stand of 66, although there was much merit too in the support offered by Ajmal Shahzad, whose restraint and discipline reflected well on him. He faced 84 balls for his eight runs, barely striking a blow in anger, and was cross with himself in the end for failing to resist a Jade Dernbach bouncer that had him caught behind off a top edge.

It was a second wicket for Dernbach, who had looked as though he might be the bowler of the day when he wrecked Alex Hales' stumps in his second over. Hales, who earned compliments for the new discipline in his batting after an unusually patient half-century in the win over Derbyshire, has since returned scores of 4, 2, 0 and 4, much to his own frustration.

In the event it was not Dernbach but Stuart Meaker and Tim Linley who did most to justify Gareth Batty's decision to field. Meaker, whose high ambitions for this season have not been helped by a thigh injury, ended Ed Cowan's hopes of building on a morning of hard graft when he bowled him off an inside edge shortly before lunch, and struck again soon afterwards when Michael Lumb, beaten three times by Dernbach in the preceding over, tried to work him through midwicket only to be caught off a leading edge at mid-off.

The pressure on the home side had grown through a string of maidens -- seven in his first 10 overs -- from Tim Linley, who was unlucky to go wicketless before lunch but was rewarded in the afternoon when Samit Patel, forced to defend on the back foot, edged to first slip, where Gary Wilson took a good catch.

Of the front line batsmen, only James Taylor had looked in any way at ease. Captain for this match, Taylor's innings had for the most part been a mix of well-judged leaves and sweetly timed boundaries until, three short of a half-century, he misjudged a ball from Linley that he chopped on to his leg stump.

Meaker by then had beaten Riki Wessels for pace and claimed a fourth wicket when Paul Franks was drawn into nibbling at one outside off stump, at which moment Notts were not well fancied even to scrape a solitary batting point.

In the end they picked up two thanks to Mullaney, who drew confidence from six fours and a second half-century in as many games to take on even Dernbach ultimately, taking 12 in one over, including six pulled over midwicket, although those were the last of his runs before he was leg before to Linley for 68 in the next over.

Wessels will keep wicket in place of Read, while Franks's first appearance of the season will be curtailed should England decide to go without Stuart Broad or Graeme Swann at Lord's.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 16, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    good stuff - nice one Cyril

  • Cyril on May 15, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    A nice report; far better than anything written on Surrey's matches so far this season. Thank you.

    I'm hoping Surrey bowl well in the second innings too, thus encouraging Adams to drop the two spinner approach at home. This is my first choice attack, the bowlers complement each other and are all capable of bowling many overs without breaking down and importantly will always give 100% for their team and captain.

    As Adams said in interview, it is vital, given the good start, for the batsman to stop giving their wickets away. Solanki, in particular, looks in such good form but then switches off and gets out. The inexperienced pair of Burns and Harinath are currently carrying the batting. Surrey need big contributions from Solanki and de Bruyn now.

  • Mark on May 15, 2013, 21:29 GMT

    This is already very much a game that neither side can afford to lose. For Nottinghamshire a second win would open up a gap with the bottom three and go some way to help heal the horrors of the Durham defeat. Defeat would allow Surrey to leapfrog them and put them deep into relegation trouble already.

    Both these sides are too good to be relegated, but both look vulnerable. Surrey were my pre-season pick to accompany Derbyshire down because I feel that they are still paying the price for last year's troubles and things still don't feel quite right around the club. Maybe Surrey will come out tomorrow and make this total look inadequate, but their batting, without Graeme Smith, will have to be a lot more determined than it has been on most occasions this season.

    Last season Notts based their success on reliable bowling and a lower order capable of turning 60-6 or 70-5 into a defendable 230-240 time and again. It looks like a knack that they have not completely lost.

  • No featured comments at the moment.