Fletcher fills Adams void for Notts
Nottinghamshire 274 and 24 for 1 lead Surrey 207 (Wilson 49) by 91 runs
This could be a disappointing season for Surrey, who will be casting envious glances in the direction of their neighbours, poised seemingly to collect a third victory of the season at Taunton.
Themselves without a win, with their major signing crocked and already revising their expectations downwards, Surrey have some ground to make up to emerge with a draw at Trent Bridge, where they were in danger of being asked to follow-on until Gary Wilson and Gareth Batty averted the threat in a partnership of 81 for the seventh wicket.
In the event, Surrey were still bowled out for 207, conceding a lead of 67 to Nottinghamshire, whose 274 looked a meritworthy effort given that the conditions they faced on day one, against a persistent attack with at times heavy cloud cover.
The wickets were shared equally between five bowlers, of whom Luke Fletcher looked the most impressive. There has been a feeling over the last couple of seasons that Nottinghamshire have become too reliant on Andre Adams to win them matches, with Fletcher and the others cast merely in supporting roles, but the Adams' absence with a calf injury is requiring others to take responsibility and should they complete a victory in this match it might been seen as a significant moment.
Indeed, it would be a milestone of sorts, given that Nottinghamshire have not actually won a Championship match in which Adams has not taken part since 2010, discounting this season's win over Derbyshire, over which he had little influence but in which he was on the field at the start.
Adams, leading wicket-taker for the last three years, is not done yet, but at 37 he has a limited shelf life. Hence Nottinghamshire's need someone to emerge from the pack as the new leader. It may yet be Ajmal Shahzad, although the Yorkshire refugee needs time to settle into his new surroundings. In the meantime, Fletcher and Harry Gurney, the left-armer, have a chance to make their case.
Sharing the new ball after Jade Dernbach had quickly taken the remaining Nottinghamshire wicket, Gurney struck first, drawing Rory Burns into an edge, before Fletcher, tall, thickly set and with a willingness to work hard, opened his account by finding a way through Jason Roy's defence with a fine inswinging ball. Fletcher could not claim much credit for dismissing Vikram Solanki, leg before shouldering arms, but figures of 2 for 40 from 18 overs with 10 maidens, though impressive enough, did not do him full justice.
There was a bonus for Nottinghamshire in the return of veteran seamer Paul Franks, who has forced his way back into the side after being told last autumn he was at liberty to seek another county, rather than wait for limited opportunities. He bowled as if he had a point to prove, removing both Zander de Bruyn and Steven Davies in his first four overs with the help of second slip, conceding no runs in the process. Had Ed Cowan not dropped a routine chance at third slip, he would have seen off Arun Harinath in that spell too.
As it was, Surrey were 47 for 5. When Shahzad removed Harinath, who was caught at gully stretching to cut, they were 71 for 6. It did not help the batting side that, despite an outing for the heavy roller between innings, there was clearly an element of variable bounce.
Conditions eased in the afternoon, when Batty and Wilson were able to stem the flow of wickets. There was an argument that James Taylor, standing in for Chris Read as Nottinghamshire's captain, might have turned to Samit Patel's left-arm spin a little earlier given that it was his bowling that regained control. As it was, the possibility of a follow-on was removed moments before Patel had Wilson caught behind, attempting a cut. Batty followed soon afterwards, stumped as he went for a big hit over midwicket.
A couple of boundaries from Dernbach secured a batting point for Surrey and the wicket of Alex Hales, who chopped on to Stuart Meaker, offered a measure of encouragement. But Nottinghamshire are still well placed to stretch ahead on day three.