Hampshire 93 for 2 (Weatherley 47*) trail Nottinghamshire 162 (Abbott 6-37) by 69 runs
Kyle Abbott believes that he made the decision a few months too early to leave South Africa for Hampshire in 2017. Equally, he is entitled to think that his move has at least given him a better chance of honours this summer.
Whether Abbott would have made any difference to a World Cup campaign that can be politely described as faltering is a matter for speculation, and useless speculation at that. What is beyond doubt is his importance to Hampshire as they continue to push for a first Championship title since 1973.
Conditions could not have been more helpful at Welbeck Cricket Club on its well-dressed debut as a first-class venue. The pitch offered good bounce, the sky went through shades of grey rather than blue and a heavy morning shower kept the grass fresh. With his pace, height and power, Abbott merely needed to add accuracy to be a potent force.
Figures of 6 for 37 confirm that he did. He proved incisive at both ends of another paltry Nottinghamshire display and while the loss of four wickets for six runs in 17 balls brought the effort to an abrupt conclusion, culpability rests with the specialist batsmen. Again, they succumbed too easily in first innings: 97 all out against Warwickshire last week, 162 here.
Hampshire have already beaten Notts this season at another ground hosting for the first time, at Newport on the Isle of Wight. The Welbeck club have staged one-day fixtures, but this is a step up. We are deep in former mining territory, surrounded by places such as Shirebrook, Ollerton and Annesley that became synonymous with their collieries. Welbeck's own pit ceased production in 2010.
But the address sites the ground in the little-known village of Sookholme, which may have quietly become the smallest place for a Championship match. It is hard to know. The response to a Google search for "Sookholme population" meets the response: "Do you mean Stockholm population". A man in the press tent claiming local knowledge described it as "a hamlet, but not a very big one".
It was claimed in 2007 that Cresselly had become the smallest county host when Glamorgan played Surrey in a one-day match. The Tenby Observer described it as the biggest-ever sporting event in Pembrokeshire. Cresselly had 13 houses and a resident said that the game had brought the community together, as though those homes were split between the Bloods and the Crips.
Sookholme certainly appears a civilised place. In the early days of foundation, Australian settlements were said to boast a church, a pub and a brothel. Brief research shows that Sookholme has a church, a tropical fish shop and a cricket ground. The latter is all thanks to the philanthropy of an old-school local boy made good.
John Fretwell began his working life as a barber charging 30 pence for a trim. He went on to buy and sell, wheel and deal and ended up a multi-millionaire wholesaler. Cricket was his passion - he was president of Welbeck Colliery CC and a former player - so a decision to put something back into the community was always likely to involve the sport. He bought 19 acres of farmland - probably a fair bit of Sookholme - and development began.
Pride was visible on the face of Fretwell as he shook hands, watched play and told his inspiring story to BBC radio. Short, bespectacled and balding, he bore a striking facial resemblance to the dotage appearance of the county's most famous miner-cricketer, Harold Larwood. Now there's a man you wouldn't have wanted to face in the gloom.
Problems for Notts began in the first over when Ben Slater edged on. Chris Nash fell to Abbott and Joe Clarke drove loosely to second slip, a bad option early in his innings when Abbott's spell was coming to an end. Ben Duckett batted nicely before rain brought an early lunch, only to nudge behind soon after the resumption.
That gave the improving James Fuller a deserved wicket. He found steepling bounce from a length, and things grew worse when Samit Patel undid a sound start by wafting at Abbott. Patel might have been unsettled after a blow in the proverbial groin region in the same over, but the choice of shot was not a good way to win sympathy from the dressing room.
Steven Mullaney showed the way forward by leaving sensibly, adding 51 with James Pattinson. The seventh-wicket pair looked to keep out the bowlers and wait for what they thought they could hit, which Mullaney did spectacularly in hooking Fuller for six. Some of his shots through midwicket reminded of Tim Robinson, one of his predecessors as county captain.
But the loss of Pattinson sparked a collapse. Abbot simply proved too good with a crosswind pushing balls back in to the right-handers. Mullaney did not even have time to attack in the final overs before he edged Fuller behind, and while Luke Fletcher removed Oliver Soames in the third over of the reply, a second breakthrough was almost two hours away.
Bowlers struck the pads regularly and Pattinson seemed particularly confident of at least one appeal. When Jake Ball, at his local club, joined the attack he saw Nash drop Joe Weatherley in successive overs at second slip. The first opportunity was tough, but the second should have been taken. Bowler and fielder both knew it.
Ajinkya Rahane played particularly well in conditions that must have seemed alien, until edging Ball to second slip where Mullaney took a good catch. Ball screamed in released frustration as much as joy, but Weatherley avoided further mishap. Given fair weather, Hampshire have a good opportunity to catch up Somerset, the only side above them. But the forecast is grim.