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Jon Culley at Trent Bridge
May 14, 2014
Nottinghamshire 409 (Wessels 158, Taylor 78) beat Northamptonshire 248 (Peters 88, Siddle 4-75) and 151 (Shazad 4-46, Siddle 4-61) by an innings and 10 runs
Northamptonshire's first taste of Division One cricket in a decade is rapidly turning sour. Given 76 overs in which to secure a draw in a badly rain-affected match, they instead crashed to 151 all out in 49.2 overs, a third defeat in four following last season's euphoric campaign, when they combined promotion with victory in the Friends Life t20.
Peter Siddle, the Australian fast bowler, took 4 for 61 and Ajmal Shahzad 4 for 46 as Nottinghamshire picked up their second win of the season to climb to fourth in the early table.
Effectively half of the first three days had been lost to the weather and Nottinghamshire began the final day only 11 runs ahead at 259 for 5 in their first innings but a whirlwind 158 off 152 balls by Riki Wessels allowed them to declare with full batting points, a lead of 161 and two sessions plus 30 minutes in which to test Northamptonshire's resolve.
The visitors failed miserably and David Ripley, Northamptonshire's director of cricket, was left to reflect that his side must learn lessons quickly to bridge the gap between the divisions.
"We dominated with the bat at times last year and we've now got to earn the right to do that," he said. "We need to invest more time in getting in because 30s and 40s are not going to win you matches. In the second innings today, there were a lot of batsmen who got starts but we never built any partnerships.
"There is a gap in quality. There are sides, like Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Durham and Somerset who have cemented their position in the first division and the challenge for us is to become one of those sides because we want to be playing against these kind of opponents every week.
"The big difference is in the back-up seamers. As one quality bowler comes off another one comes on, and you don't get many overs off. That's something we have to try to adjust to but we have to do it a bit quicker because we are four games in now.
"But I think we have enough quality to compete in this division and we're just not able to show it at the moment. In this match we have had our moments but have not been able to capitalise as Notts did. They got a foothold in the game today and ruthlessly hammered home their advantage."
Their foothold came from Wessels, 78 overnight - having been dropped, to Northamptonshire's lasting regret, on just 22 - and it was after completing a 124-ball hundred that he really opened up, blasting his next 50 runs off just 20 deliveries.
He had spectators in the Fox Road stand ducking for cover with a series of meaty leg-side blows, including one run of five sixes in the space of seven balls faced from the Pavilion End, four in five balls off Hall and one off Mohammad Azharullah, before showing he could also clear the longer boundary with a clip over midwicket for his eighth maximum when Maurice Chambers came on at the Radcliffe Road end.
Ajmal Shahzad aided the cause with 36 off 25 balls and the two added 107 in just 51 deliveries before Wessels at last found a fielder, at wide long-on, prompting the declaration.
Northamptonshire reached lunch only one down but after Stephen Peters, the captain and their best hope of plotting a path to survival, fell into a trap set by Siddle and flicked a ball off his legs straight to Andre Adams at short square leg, the innings followed a depressingly familiar pattern.
Two more wickets in Siddle's spell reduced them to 62 for 4. Adams held a return catch off a leading edge to remove Rob Newton, Siddle caught Ben Duckett, also off his own bowling, before Shahzad removed Hall - the man who had let Wessels off the hook at first slip on Tuesday - via a catch at the wicket as the South African followed one that swung away.
Shahzad matched Siddle in claiming four wickets in the innings, taking out David Murphy's middle stump and trapping Maurice Chambers in front, either side of another caught and bowled, popped back by Steven Crook to Samit Patel off a full toss.
Things can only get better, Northamptonshire will hope. The start of the new NatWest T20 will be seen as a chance to rekindle form. Ian Butler, the New Zealand seamer who signed after three previous deals for overseas players fell through, will make his county debut in their T20 opener against Yorkshire at Headingley and face Middlesex in the Championship at Wantage Road on Sunday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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