Carter defies pain to lift Notts' spirits for Moores
Nottinghamshire 240 (B Taylor 69, Wessels 65) and 366 (Read 73, J Taylor 56, Wessels 55, Shantry 5-48) beat Worcestershire 283 (Oliver 99, Fell 72, Hilfenhaus 4-67) and 210 (Mitchell 76, Fell 58, Carter 4-46) by 113 runs
When Peter Moores, the former England coach, walks into the Trent Bridge dressing room for the first time before their NatWest Blast tie on Friday for an emergency three-month assignment, he will discover a more upbeat county than he might have imagined after Nottinghamshire manfully rose above the difficulties caused by an injury-stricken bowling attack to outstay Worcestershire by a surprisingly comfortable margin of 113 runs.
Worcestershire will bemoan their own ill luck, too, with Alex Gidman unable to bat in their second innings because of the mild concussion he suffered when he was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Ben Hilfenhaus in the first innings, but their collapse to defeat was swift in the post-tea session as their last six wickets tumbled for 17 in 13 overs.
If Nottinghamshire's victory has eased their relegation worries, Worcestershire will fear that in common with the other promoted county, Hampshire, they face a hazardous battle to retain their Division One status. They cannot be faulted for effort, but with Nottinghamshire down to two fit pace bowlers, plus the supporting slow-left arm of Samit Patel, they would have imagined that a target of 324 on a sedate pitch was within their compass.
Nottinghamshire owed much to a courageous performance from Andy Carter, who was presumed to be out of the match on the first evening by his director of cricket, Mick Newell, because of an abdominal tear, only to decide to give it a go as he drove from his home in Lincoln to the ground the following morning.
It was Carter, their angular pace bowler, who polished off Worcestershire, his last two wickets arriving with the second new ball as he returned 4 for 46, figures his coach certainly never saw coming on an opening day that had brought only despondency - and the news that Moores had been called up to bring fresh ideas into the dressing room.
Carter has spent the past three days held together by heavy strapping and painkillers knowing that every over he bowled would be a bonus for Notts' two remaining put-upon quicks, Hilfenhaus, an Australian professional overflowing with zeal, and Brett Hutton, who Newell said had been banging his door down for an opportunity and who found, once allowed to bowl, he pretty much had to bowl all the time.
"Before I got into the spell I was very sore today but eventually adrenalin kicks in and you just get on with it," Carter said. "Driving to the ground in the car, I thought 'I need to have a go here'. Even if I could bowl three or four overs at 70% it would let the other lads have a bit of a break. I imagine I will be fairly sore tomorrow. I felt I owed the team."
"This game has gone all over the place over the past four days," Newell said. "There were times when we did not know where we might get a wicket from. But Pete will find an upbeat group of players - and they've every right to be. From a bowling and fielding perspective we have been outstanding. I genuinely didn't think Carter would play again in the match and I don't think he will play again for a month."
In the end a demanding run chase - 324 in just over a day - became too much for Worcestershire, and especially the mainstay of their batting, Daryl Mitchell. When Patel defeated him on the sweep immediately after tea, caught at square leg after an increasingly painstaking 75 from 204 balls, Worcestershire's chances departed with him. They were 193 for 4 at that point, still 131 short of victory, and the chase was stillborn.
Responsibility rested heavily on Mitchell. When Patel finally got his man, it completed a sequence in which he had only conceded 11 runs in 73 balls against Worcestershire's captain, stolen almost exclusively square on the offside. Fourth day and big target or not, Worcestershire were not assertive enough. Then the moment he tried anything else, he was out. That's teatime conversations for you....
His progress was particularly laborious as he added only 22 runs between lunch and tea, a session in which he played out five successive maidens from Patel and also escaped a stumping opportunity for Chris Read on 58.
The 12 overs after tea before the second new ball might have been Worcestershire's chance to plot a route to victory. Instead, Mitchell departed, Ben Cox fell at square leg and Joe Leach at short leg. Patel then bowled 29 successive dot balls at Ed Barnard before clipping his off bail with a classic left-arm spinner's dismissal and Carter intervened with the new ball. Saeed Ajmal fell lbw to a ball that kept sligfhtly low, Michael Lumb took a sharp catch at leg slip and Moores, who spent the day watching his son in the 2nd XI, must have realised his job had become a little easier.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps