Nottinghamshire pacemen demolish Kent
Kent 200 and 51 for 2 v Nottighamshire 456
Unlike Essex, conquerors of the Durham attack at Chester-le-Street, Kent's introduction to Division One cricket has been painful. If day three goes as badly for them as days one and two they can cancel their Saturday night out in Nottingham.
By close of play here, last season's Division Two champions were into their second innings, having been asked to follow on some 256 runs behind. They had at least managed to secure a batting point, off a misfield the ball before their 10th wicket fell, but it was hardly consolation.
The difference has been in the quality of the bowling. With a good covering of grass and little pace, the pitch has not been one to make a batsman feel comfortable. Yet only one of the Kent seamers conceded fewer than 3.58 runs per over. To their captain, the others must have been unacceptably expensive. At no stage were they able to offer him control.
By contrast, Nottinghamshire's attack, spearheaded by a Ryan Sidebottom clearly enthused by his selection for the World Twenty20, rarely had their hand off the tiller. Like Rob Key, Nottinghamshire captain Chris Read would have chosen to bowl first. His bowlers, hostile and generally accurate, demonstrated why.
Nottinghamshire began the day in a commanding position, four runs away from a batting maximum. Nonetheless, they were eight wickets down after Andre Adams's give-away wicket to the last ball of the opening day and Kent would have expected not to be too much longer in the field. Yet Nottinghamshire continued pretty much without restraint, almost for another 17 overs, adding another 60 runs.
Paul Franks did much of the extra damage. The 31-year-old, who might have made a career as an England all-rounder had he not been bedevilled by injuries, has found a little bit of the old form lately. He scored a century against Durham UCCE last week, his first in a first-class match for five years. Here, hitting the ball cleanly and with power through the off side, he advanced to 73 before playing around a ball from Matt Coles. The score was his best in the Championship since May 2007.
The wicket was a second in five overs for 19-year-old Coles, who saved his best spell until last, having dismissed Luke Fletcher via a catch at second slip with his third delivery. It is the senior bowlers from whom Key will want more. Had Stuart Clark been able to come their prospects would look a lot stronger but with Amjad Khan and Azhar Mahmood they should at least be competitive.
Nottinghamshire, on the other hand, could assemble several different sets of bowlers were their full complement fit and available. Here they have no Darren Pattinson (injured) nor Charlie Shreck (rehabilitating after surgery), while it goes almost without saying that neither Stuart Broad nor Graeme Swann is available.
Yet with Sidebottom fiercely motivated, the powerful Fletcher eager to build on the promise of last season, Adams developing his skills with the ball and Franks a usefully canny back-up, they still fielded a seam quartet to which most counties would doff their caps.
Sidebottom made the first incisions as Kent began their reply, bowling Joe Denly and trapping Key leg before with a couple of tasty inswingers. From 13 for 2, Kent staggered to 58 for 5 as Adams claimed the next three wickets.
He had some help. Geraint Jones, who had looked capable of organising a recovery, made a complete misjudgment of what would be the last ball of the morning - bowled offering no stroke. Then Martin van Jaarsveld tickled one down the leg side, although it took a super diving catch from Chris Read to make him pay for it. It was a better ball that accounted for Darren Stevens, on the back foot, giving Neil Edwards the first of five catches at second slip, handing the debutant the distinction of being the first Nottinghamshire outfielder to claim five victims since Derek Randall in 1987.
The one that removed the dangerous Sam Northeast, over his right shoulder off Fletcher, was the best of the lot. The others were routine, enabling Adams to make James Tredwell his fourth victim, Sidebottom to add Coles and Franks to claim his second after first slip Ali Brown had pouched Mahmood, without whose lusty nine-four 52 Kent would have been in even worse shape.
When Kent began their follow-on, with Tredwell a nightwatchman from the start, neither Sidebottom nor Fletcher was as tight as before. But then two wickets in as many overs - Fletcher bowling Key and Tredwell falling to Adams - left Kent staring at a three-day defeat, still 205 behind.