Notts v Lancs, Div 1, Trent Bridge, 4th day April 9, 2014

Notts break Lancashire resistance

Nottinghamshire 272 (Patel 93, Hales 61, Anderson 5-55) and 220 (Wessels 90, Smith 5-53) beat Lancashire 144 (Smith 42*, Fletcher 3-15) and 303 (Prince 100, Smith 76, Gurney 4-81) by 45 runs

A record seventh-wicket partnership between Ashwell Prince and Tom Smith proved in vain for Lancashire as they slipped to a 45-run defeat against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Set an unlikely 349 to win, Lancashire appeared doomed when they subsided to 112 for 6 shortly after lunch. But, with the pitch easing and Smith and Prince counter-attacking bravely, runs started to flow in a stand that was eventually worth 147 - a Lancashire record for the seventh-wicket against Nottinghamshire.

Defeat was cruel on Smith, in particular. He added 118 runs in the match to the five-wicket haul in Nottinghamshire's second innings and was only dismissed when Luke Fletcher, armed with the second new ball, produced a beauty to take his outside edge.

Prince was last man out when, left only with James Anderson in support, he went across his stumps in an attempt to clip a full toss over mid-wicket and instead lost his leg stump.

He looked a class above his teammates. While he enjoyed two or three reprieves - a desperately tough stumping chance on six; a bad miss by Jake Ball at mid-off on 18 and a top-edge that seemed to be left by Ball and Phil Jaques on 92 - in between he produced some masterful batting.

Negating the movement by leaving well, playing well forward and right in front of his eyes, he also attacked when the opportunity allowed and pulled one six off Andy Carter that would have pleased Viv Richards.

In the end, Lancashire paid the price for their loose batting in the first inning and their loose bowling in Nottinghamshire's. They allowed, in their coach Peter Moore's estimation, Nottinghamshire to score "50 or 60" more than par in that first innings which, when you look at the margin of victory, turned out to be defining. Had they won, it would have been their highest fourth-innings run-chase since 2002.

Afterwards Moores, who like his Nottinghamshire counterpart Mick Newell will be interviewed for the England job on Wednesday, defended his policy of not signing an overseas batsman to bolster Lancashire's brittle top-order.

"We want to give opportunities to our own," Moores said. "We think that you don't really know how good they can be until they come up against top players. In the past, that has worked well for us and there were several players in our Championship winning side who emerged that way. Having said that, we reserve the right to bring in an overseas player, but it might be we go the whole season without one."

It is possible that this will have been Moores' last game in charge at Lancashire. But he insisted that speculation around him being appointed to the England coaching role was not causing a distraction for the team.

"When you are involved in very good games of cricket like this one, it is very easy to keep your focus on Lancashire," he said. "Like everyone else at the club, I have poured a lot of energy into preparing for the season and all my efforts are still on the job in hand."

Lancashire expect to have Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg available for selection for their next game - at home against Warwickshire from a week on Sunday - while Kyle Jarvis, Steven Croft and Karl Brown will also be considered for selection.

Lancashire actually started the second day very well. Having utilised the heavy roller just before play - under the new playing regulations a side can only use it once per game - nightwatchman Simon Kerrigan and Paul Horton looked comfortable on a surface that was appreciably slower and added 70 for the second wicket.

But once the stand was broken, Lancashire collapsed. They lost five wickets for 36, with Kerrigan playing for non-existent spin and Andrea Agathangelou punished for a clumsy forward prod, playing with a braced front leg and hard hands, that failed to negate some gentle spin and edged a catch to slip.

There were many heroes for Nottinghamshire. Ball, who produced a couple of wonderful deliveries to account for Horton and Luke Procter, both of whom had to play balls that nipped away from them, enjoyed an impressive debut and looks a seamer with a bright career ahead of him at this level.

Harry Gurney, meanwhile, had the pace and fitness to hurry Prince even when he was well established on a pitch that had slowed considerably and found Alex Davies' edge with a brute of a ball that reared on him. But it was Fletcher, who limped off the field with what the club believed to be cramp, who was the pick of the bowlers and made crucial breakthroughs with the new ball several times in the game.

It all means that Nottinghamshire will have quite a seam unit at their command this season. While Andre Adams is still a little way from fitness - coach Mick Newell pointed out that Adams had started 11 games last season but finished only seven - Peter Siddle is available for their next match, starting at Lord's on Sunday and Ajmal Shahzad is also close to fitness. Whether they have the spin attack to mount a serious title challenge remains to be seen but, on the strength of this match, they look strong contenders.

The game also offered a first opportunity to witness the tactical importance of the new heavy roller regulations. While complicated and prosaic to the causal watcher, it could prove a crucial factor in the season. Here Lancashire, who gambled on not using the roller on the second day in the belief that rain would render it wasteful, were punished for their choice. By the time they did use it, the indentations made on a damp first day pitch had set into the surface and provided assistance to Nottinghamshire's seamers.

The playing regulations do seem to be working, though. While the 2013 season as characterised by slow pitches crushed to death by endless rolling and the previous few years had seen batting become a lottery as the roller was banned entirely, the ECB may now have found a decent compromise.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • George on April 15, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    Unless Lancs batting improves dramatically we are going to be in a relegation battle, regardless of how impressive the bowling attack is. Very disappointing to think that the best batsman to come through at Lancs in the past ten years is Paul Horton, and in that time Yorkshire have brought through Lyth, Ballance, Root, Bairstow, Lees, not to mention Rashid whose batting would easily get him into the Lancs top six. Will be a tough step up for Reece, Procter and Agathangalou, and I just can't see anyone except Prince in the top six being able to grind out an innings on a tough wicket. Croft looks a worse player than he was five years ago and Brown just isn't good enough. They may also not have a coach in a couple of weeks time! Early days yet but already looking ominous.

  • Will on April 10, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    Notts will dominate this season.

  • Paul on April 10, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    It is Lancashire's team selection for this match which seems strange. What was the point of picking White and Ali. Smith, Proctor and Reese could all bowl seam. Two more batsmen were what was needed. We do not have batsmen who will churn out centuries but if we have 10 players in the side who regularly get 40s that is how we can post 400

  • Mark on April 10, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    @Codandchips Anderson hasn't played since January and took a goo 5-for in the 1st innings. Quite possibly more than tiredness it's a little match-fitness that he's missing.

    I was listening to the action yesterday afternoon as the match bubbled up to that amazing climax. Brilliant stuff! Notts kept their nerve really well under extreme pressure when it looked as if the match was slipping away. And all brilliantly narrated - aren't the BBC county commentaries wonderful!

  • Paulo on April 10, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    Newell beats Moores......

    Newell has had county success but how much has been on taking players from other teams and not developing your own youngsters.

  • Des on April 9, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    @lankymanky ; spot on. Incidentally, I think George Dobell is an excellent writer; just disagree on Reece point.

  • steven on April 9, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    I would have thought very hard on Reece. As Nott's showed in conditions like these you need to take advantage of anything short if you want to keep the board ticking over. Poor execution certainly but not going to hang him for the attempt. It has been a bad game for him but I believe he will learn from this. Great to see Tom Smith in the runs and wickets as when fit he is such an important cog in his all-round expertise in all formats. Sadly for Lancs though their batting has looked weak for quite a while and success is usually down to one off batting success or more likely fantastic bowling. This doesn't look like changing for this season.

  • Paulo on April 9, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    Anderson looking tired after just 1 match is very concerning. Kerrigan not taking a wicket is also concerning, considering I want him as test spinner.

    Is the potential "last day in county cricket" because England are to announce the new coach soon?

  • Des on April 8, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    Bit hard on Reece, Mr Dobell. Yes, it was an awful shot but I was pretty bad at my job at his age. It does not mean he cannot make it as an opener and to compare that to Parry opening or even Moores' bizarre attempt to make an opener of Tom Smith five years ago is poor. I am with you on the evidence to date about Peter Moores but to add such significance to two early season dismissals for Reece does you little credit

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