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Jon Culley at Chester-le-Street
August 31, 2014
Nottinghamshire 66 for 4 trail Durham 253 (Richardson 73, Stoneman 55) by 87 runs
There were significant developments at the end of all three sessions and it will be the last ball of the day that preys on Nottinghamshire minds. It saw Samit Patel out for 26, edging a ball from 21-year-old seamer Paul Coughlin to Scott Borthwick at second slip, a dismissal that leaves them four down and feeling more anxious about Yorkshire's progress at Old Trafford than they had probably anticipated.
With no Alex Hales, the loss of Michael Lumb for 18 and James Taylor for a first-ball duck were blows they could have done without. Having added New Zealand allrounder James Franklin to the mix for his first-class county debut, they still bat down to No. 7. Yet a substantial score from Patel, who has managed only two half-centuries in his last 14 innings, would have made them feel a good deal more comfortable.
All in all, on a day when they brought former Lancashire left-arm spinner Gary Keedy came out of semi-retirement to make his county debut, Nottinghamshire may feel suddenly that their title challenge is a little under-resourced.
The depth of their bowling, as might be deduced from Keedy's inclusion, is being tested in particular. With Harry Gurney (38 wickets) away on England duty and no replacement found for the Australian fast bowler, Peter Siddle (37 wickets), it has taken only an injury to Andre Adams (36) to raise questions about whether they can see the title challenge through.
Adams, who has struggled for the last couple of years with recurrent calf problems, now has a knee injury. Nottinghamshire are keen that he can turn out against Yorkshire next week, if only to give the Kiwi stalwart a fitting send-off in his last season before departing - almost certainly to Hampshire - but they are having to keep fingers crossed.
To be fair, Keedy's recall was not an entirely desperate measure - the 39-year-old, who doubles now as spin-bowling coach and assistant physio, was always seen as a potential pick if conditions were right - but the alternative was to give a debut to 19-year-old left-arm seamer Luke Wood. With such a lot at stake, it was probably Keedy's experience that got him the nod.
This ground is not one at which spinners queue up to play, of course, yet Keedy bowled 12 overs and looked back in the groove from the first delivery. Hard to think he had not bowled in a competitive game for a year. The only thing missing was a wicket.
As it was, a seam attack led by Luke Fletcher and Ajmal Shahzad served their side well enough. Shahzad took two useful early wickets to remove Keaton Jennings and Borthwick and Fletcher gave away few cheap runs. Allrounder Steven Mullaney's medium pace proved a useful weapon not for the first time when he bowled Mark Stoneman off an inside edge with his second ball.
Stoneman had looked reassuring solid in making 55 and it was a surprise to see him go, just before lunch, although he will not have felt as frustrated as Michael Richardson, who had played nicely for his 73 and looked to have a third century of the season his for the taking when, with tea in sight, he took an unnecessary liberty with Patel and was stumped.
Patel had just taken over from Keedy to bowl more left-arm spin from the Finchale End and Richardson presumably saw an opportunity to take the upper hand. He should know, however, that going down the pitch with Chris Read standing behind you is a risky business. It was Patel's second ball, too.
Missing Ben Stokes and with Phil Mustard ruled out by injury for the first time in two years, Durham's 253 felt like a below par score. Nottinghamshire would have batted first as well.
Moreover, their bowling resources are in worse shape than Nottinghamshire's, with Graham Onions, Mark Wood, Jamie Harrison and Usman Arshad all currently injured. Peter Chase, a 20-year-old Irish seam bowler who does not have a squad number, came in for his debut.
Yet, with Australian allrounder John Hastings sharing the new ball with Chris Rushworth, Durham enjoyed a dream start. Hastings took two wickets in two balls in his first over, removing Mullaney via a catch behind before Taylor, just named in England's Twenty20 squad after a string of impressive performances, walked into a swinging delivery to be out first ball.
Lumb and Patel set about the reconstruction work, but had not progressed very far when Lumb was adjudged to be leg before to Rushworth for 18. If that was a setback, the loss of Patel, pushing tentatively at a ball that moved away, was a bigger one still.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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