Nottinghamshire 69 for 1 trail Lancashire 225 (Buttler 52, Adams 4-45) by 156 runs
According to all reports this will be Andre Adams' last season at Trent Bridge. The allrounder celebrates his 39th birthday on Thursday and he has apparently decided to retire on his own terms when people are asking him why, rather than why not.
That seems reasonable enough, yet on the evidence of the first day of this game at Aigburth Mick Newell and Chris Read may be wondering whether their veteran's decision is set in granite. They may even be toying with the idea of persuading him to turn out only against Lancashire, should they and Nottinghamshire be in the same division next year.
Statistics make such a bizarre notion seem almost thinkable. Adams' four wickets on Sunday brought his total against Glen Chapple's side to 29 in the last six innings. He claimed the important scalps of Usman Khawaja and Ashwell Prince, both caught by Steven Mullaney in the slip and gully cordon, as the home side stumbled to 45 for 4 in the first session. Adams then returned after tea to have the in-form Tom Smith pouched by Alex Hales for 32 before ending the innings by bowling Simon Kerrigan for a duck.
So far, so very impressive. Adams swung the ball, kept it up to the batsman and earned his rewards. He has clearly recovered from the calf injuries which have blighted his cricket recently. But he also played a significant role in the field, leaping at mid-off to catch Jos Buttler off Harry Gurney for 52 and then diving from a similar position to grab the fine one-handed snare which removed Kyle Hogg and gave Peter Siddle his first wicket on what will be his last appearance of the season for Nottinghamshire.
In and around Adams' displays of skill, the rest of the Nottinghamshire attack offered excellent support and Lancashire's first innings total of 225 looked ever more inadequate as the wicket eased in the evening sunshine. Read was no doubt delighted to have won the toss but such strokes of good fortune are only valuable if they are exploited to the full.
Thus it will have pleased Read to see Luke Fletcher strike the first blow when Andrea Agathangelou nicked the seamer to him in the sixth over of the innings, although some in the crowd were probably still musing on the fact that Agathangelou had been preferred to Alex Davies in the Lancashire side. The visitors' fine first hour or so also included the dismissal of Paul Horton, who edged Gurney to Read when tempted by a delivery which was pushed across him in the time-honoured fashion of left-arm seamers.
The repair work effected by Buttler and Steven Croft in bringing their side into lunch on 81 for 4 could not disguise the damage that had been inflicted by an attack which had made the most of early moisture and morning cloud. Even the flurry of shots on the resumption merely excited the home supporters only to disappoint them when Croft departed for 31, his push at a ball from Fletcher only edging the ball to Hales at second slip.
Six overs after that 80-run stand for the fourth wicket ended, Buttler was also on his way back to the great old pavilion when his rather careless drive only found Adams. His departure for a fifty stylishly made off 84 balls was all the more disappointing given that he had reached his half-century off the previous delivery and that he had done most of the hard work preparatory to making a really major, match-defining contribution.
The rest of Lancashire's innings, notably Chapple's 38 and Smith's 32, was filled with brief entertainments which delayed Nottinghamshire progress without affecting the tenor of the day. The home skipper clipped Samit Patel to James Taylor at midwicket and Smith top-edged an attempted pull off Adams, both dismissals being self-inflicted wounds by a side which has suffered far too many of them this summer.
Indeed, despite being 212 for 7 at tea, Lancashire lost their last three wickets to Adams and Siddle for 12 runs in 25 balls and the home fans were left to hope that their bowlers could make significant inroads in the 24 overs that remained.
It was not to be - and again Lancashire's players had only themselves to blame. Although Hogg had Hales lbw for 8, Mullaney was unbeaten on 48 at close of play, by which time he had been dropped three times. Kabir Ali shelled a dolly on mid-on before Horton could not cling on to a two-handed chance at slip and Hogg failed to hold a tough skier running back from mid-off.
All of which means that it will, as they say, be a big first hour in the morning. For Lancashire, this season, it has often been that way. Nottinghamshire, on the other hand, will reckon they have done the groundwork upon which important victories are often based.