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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Dre Russ more hit hop than hip hop as Worcestershire flounder

Nottinghamshire 167 for 6 (Christian 53*, Russell 41) beat Worcestershire 164 for 5 (Clarke 69*) by four wickets
Scorecard

The back of Andre Russell's Nottinghamshire shirt announced him as Dre Rus, the Jamaican rapper, but it was in his cricketing, not his musical guise that he made an impact that could transform Nottinghamshire's season.

What hip hop there was against Worcestershire came in the form of a limp because of a mild leg strain, but his destructive hitting remained unaffected as his 41 from 25 balls, in a sixth-wicket stand of 64 with Dan Christian, transformed a tricky Nottinghamshire chase into a four-wicket win with seven balls to spare.

At both Sydney Thunder and with the West Indies in World T20 in recent months, Russell has emerged victorious. Nottinghamshire will hope his brief, four-game stay also rubs off, although they will soon have to prosper without him: he has only one more match before heading to the Caribbean Premier League. For the first two, he has just watched it rain, and has spent his time swimming and staying in the warm.

Nottinghamshire were desperate for a change of fortune in a season that had brought only one win and two abandonments from their first five games. To overcome an impressive Worcestershire side, and prevent them from returning to the top of North Group in the process, was an indication of better times ahead, second-bottom turned into fourth in the space of a few mighty blows.

A grabby pitch after another wet week meant boundary hitting was a challenging task, but Russell has experience of this ground in 2013 and he produced two of the biggest sixes seen at New Road in recent years, one flying close to the hotel at long-on (nearly a collector's item of a brutal blow clearing a brutalist building) and another when he sprang from an even lower crouch than normal and jack-in-the-boxed Joe Leach over the new pavilion behind square and across the car park towards the adjacent cricket ground.

"Strength man, strength," was how he explained it. When he struck the sixes, they played his songs and, on one occasion, he did a little dance, his sport and his music coming together in satisfying fashion. There was a third six with the battle won, off Moeen Ali, which threatened a burger van. He has come a long way since he first came to Worcestershire's attention while playing for Barnard Green CC down the road in the Malvern Hills.

"I haven't played any cricket for the past four weeks," Russell said. "My body is used to 'keep going, keep going'. Coming here and playing tonight, it was a bit tough but I'm happy to be back on the park."

Christian possesses prodigious strength, too, and he was a redoubtable ally in making an unbeaten 53 from 39 balls. At 95 for 5 from 11.2 overs, requiring 165, Nottinghamshire had just lost two wickets in two balls to the leg-spin of Brett D'Oliveira, both of them bowled, Samit Patel charging and missing a googly by a distance, Greg Smith virtually transfixed.

Nottinghamshire's opening pair, Michael Lumb and Riki Wessels, also carried obvious danger. They have been in potent form in 50-overs cricket - Lumb making back-to-back hundreds in the Royal London Cup as Nottinghamshire passed 400 on each occasion, including a record run glut against Northamptonshire.

Joe Clarke's right-handed catch above his head at extra cover silenced Lumb as he tried to drill Leach overt the off side, was just that. Wessels was down to Moeen, who had him caught at long on for 36.

By then, Alex Hales had departed, too. England players rarely appear in county T20 and when they do they are often ill prepared for the task. Hales was an example of that, having had one white-ball net all season in a summer where his emphasis has been to devise a successful batting approach for Test cricket, a task satisfactorily addressed. He mullered Ed Barnard for one boundary, but fell for 4 in 6 balls when he mistimed Barnard to mid on.

Trevor Bayliss has received general approval since his appointment as England coach, credited with being a key influence in their more confident approach, but his lack of time watching county cricket has not gone unnoticed. His presence at New Road was therefore welcome, as he looked on in dark glasses, as if in disguise, protected against this infernal June by a heavy coat and England cap.

Worcestershire prefer chasing, but they settled to well enough to first strike, taking 54 from the powerplay, without loss. Moeen's presence was a help, as one pull through mid-on against a 90mph Russell short ball testified, and Tom Kohler-Cadmore did not suffer from the comparison.

Since he began the T20 season with a fast hundred against Durham, Kohler-Cadmore has carried threat at the top of the order and it was evident again in his 30 from 20 balls before Steven Mullaney's first ball - the first after the powerplay - struck his off stump as he tried to run a straight ball to third man.

On such a surface, Mullaney slow-medium cutters had an immediate effect. When it comes to being effective and unsung in T20 cricket, he ticks both boxes and Moeen perished trying to hit him down the ground. Nobody would have been more relieved about that than Patel, whose first over had just gone for 14 with Moeen giving the impression he could imagine nothing more agreeable.

From that point, 75.2 in 8.3 overs, it was a struggle for Worcestershire. Nottinghamshire cranked up the bowling variations in the second half of the innings - Russell deceiving Ross Whiteley's slog with a slower one - and Worcestershire ground to a halt. It took Clarke's maiden T20 fifty to rouse them as 43 came off the last four overs.

It was a hard-working innings from a talented young batsman learning with every over, his drives stylish, his attempts at invention - notably the scoop shot - not always coming off. On many days, his 69 from 48 balls might have secured victory, only for Russell's song and dance to win the day.

Notts 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st25MJ LumbMH Wessels
2nd9MH WesselsAD Hales
3rd30DT ChristianMH Wessels
4th31SR PatelDT Christian
5th0DT ChristianGP Smith
6th64DT ChristianAD Russell
7th8DT ChristianSJ Mullaney