Wessels ton highlights his value to Nottinghamshire
Durham 69 for 3 trail Nottinghamshire 245 (Wessels 117, Rushworth 3-52) by 176 runs
Given the attention commanded by some of his team-mates at Trent Bridge, Riki Wessels has become one of those cricketers who could be forgiven for feeling that whatever he does, no one really notices.
It is what can happen if you get changed each day in a room full of Test aspirants. If he makes runs, the headlines are never so big, for example, as for Alex Hales or James Taylor or Samit Patel; and on days when none of those can make a meaningful contribution it is their failure, more often than not, that becomes the talking point rather than his success.
There is no lack of appreciation within that dressing room, however. Last season, Wessels outscored Hales, Taylor, Patel et al with 1,888 runs for Nottinghamshire in all cricket, of which 1,197 came in the Championship. In Division One, only Adam Lyth, Ed Joyce and Chris Rogers had higher aggregates.
Wessels took that form with him to Australia during the English winter, marking his first return to the country of his birth in 14 years with a successful Big Bash stint for Sydney Sixers. Called up at the 11th hour after Dwayne Smith pulled out, Wessels made 205 runs in nine innings, incuding a 33-ball 50 against Sydney Thunder, as the Sixers finished as runners-up.
His hundred here, his first significant runs of a new English summer, hauled Nottinghamshire out of a hole after a familiar first morning. Asked to bat first in difficult conditions for the third time in four matches so far, the visiting side collapsed to 102 for 7 as Durham's strong seam attack looked to make the most of the opportunity.
There was a tinge of green to the pitch and some swing too, judging by the nature of some of the misjudgements. Brendan Taylor was leg before to Chris Rushworth without scoring, thrusting his front pad down the pitch and not offering a shot. Chris Read, in one of those moments that looks so embarrassing, also left one from Rushworth only to see his off stump uprooted.
And - yes - there were failures too for Hales and Taylor, back from England duty in Ireland to single-figure dismissals against balls that came back into their pads; for Patel, too, who fell to what became the last ball of a morning session that concluded with Nottinghamshire 72 for 5, a first victim on his return to the side from international duty, albeit most of it in a non-playing role, for Mark Wood.
Two more wickets fell in the first 10 overs after lunch, Read and then Brett Hutton, caught down the leg side as Wood picked up his second wicket.
But the zip in the pitches here often disappears quite rapidly once the ball is much beyond 40 overs old and so it proved again as Wessels, once he had weathered some early hostility, began to demonstrate a continuation of last season's form.
It was a well measured innings and a brave one, too, it transpired, given that his one major let-off, when he was caught behind on 32 only for Wood's delivery to be called as a no-ball for over-stepping, also left him in some pain from a bruised thumb, which had swollen so much by the end of the day that he could not field.
He found a staunch ally in Vernon Philander, who made 41 after surviving a couple of very sharp chances to gully off Graham Onions on 8 and when an inside edge off Rushworth on 17 flew high to the left of Phil Mustard. Importantly, the South African bowler was at the crease for two hours and 11 minutes as the pair added 110 for the eighth wicket.
He was on 97 when Philander was caught at second slip, driving hard at John Hastings, after which his batting became bolder and riskier with Harry Gurney at the other end. It paid off, a hefty leading edge over the slips for four off Onions taking him to his hundred, to which he added one more boundary before, hooking Onions, he was out to a stunning catch one-handed by a diving Hastings at long leg, the Australian taking a bow to an appreciative group of spectators as he rose to his feet.
In what remained of the day, Durham's openers, Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings, looked to have built solid foundations, pushing along nicely as the Nottinghamshire bowling struggled to make early inroads.
But 65 without loss suddenly became 69 for 3 in the final four overs as Brett Hutton, preferred to Will Gidman as fourth seamer, dismissed Stoneman, who left one only to be leg before in another error against the swing, and nightwatchman Wood either side of Jennings' dismissal to a ball from Gurney that had him caught behind.