Nottingham, May 04 - 07, 2023, County Championship Division One
214 & 329/8d
(T:295) 249 & 138/9

Match drawn


Brett Hutton mines rich seam as Lancashire scrap at the coalface

Broad and Anderson overshadowed as Bohannon and Hameed impress

David Hopps
David Hopps
Brett Hutton claimed a five-for, Nottinghamshire vs Lancashire, County Championship, Division One, Trent Bridge, May 4, 2023

Brett Hutton claimed a five-for  •  Getty Images

Nottinghamshire 119 for 5 (Hameed 57*) trail Lancashire 214 (Bohannon 68, Hutton 5-66) by 95 runs
DH Lawrence, who studied a few miles down the road from Trent Bridge at Nottingham High School, would have identified with Brett Hutton. The son of a coal miner, he would have recognised something familiar in Hutton's bearded features and robust frame as he diligently went about his work. Something in his honest persistence, too.
Hutton might work a different sort of seam from the miners in what was once Nottinghamshire coal country, but there is an honesty of purpose in all he does, a sense that satisfaction comes from manual labour and a job well done. Born in Doncaster and a former scholarship boy at Worksop College, he is rooted in the landscape.
For much of the past decade, Hutton might as well have operated underground for all the attention he gained on the surface from cricket's chattering classes. It has taken him 12 years to achieve his 50th first-class match for Nottinghamshire, and he needed three seasons at Northants to get his career properly on track.
But this season could hardly be more productive. For the second time in three weeks, he made expert use of encouraging Trent Bridge seam-bowling conditions, adding 5 for 66 against Lancashire to the career-best 6 for 45 he turned in against Somerset three weeks ago. His pace is the sturdy side of medium, not much more, but once again he maintained a precise line and occasionally invited Lawrence-like rhapsodies for deliveries that swung back lavishly to the right-hander: Josh Bohannon's enterprising 68 from 72 balls - the best innings of the day - was silenced in such a fashion.
This "enkindled Spring", as Lawrence had it, this "leaping combustion", will always toss aside a batter's spirits (one suspects Lawrence would have opted for "batsman", an altogether manlier style), and this was another day where the odds were stacked in the bowlers' favour. Hutton was not the only bowler to prosper as 15 wickets fell, with Lancashire ultimately having the better of it, still 95 runs to the good with only five Nottinghamshire wickets to get.
They can expect one of those wickets to be hard won, if it is won at all. Notts' position could have been all the bleaker were it not for a masterful half-century in exacting conditions by Haseeb Hameed, who played with great judgment throughout and had 57 from 109 balls when bad light caused a premature end.
Lancashire pointedly wished Hameed well when they released him at 22, as bewildered as he was by a prolonged loss of form three years after his England debut in India had been hailed as the start of a long and distinguished international career.
For Lancashire, Hameed had become a dilemma, their belief that he was a player of huge talent in conflict with an endless run of batting failures. But even though there was no sense of rejection, the incentive for Hameed to restate his talent against his former county, to assuage the hurt, was self-evident. This was only his second first-class innings against them (the first came in the Bob Willis Trophy during the Covid pandemic) and he batted as if he intended it to last until every bad memory had been expunged. There is no sense that England are looking - his more flamboyant opening partner, Ben Duckett, is currently much more fashionable - but he played with great purpose.
In keeping with recent seasons, Lancashire have been much touted as potential Championship winners, but they have begun the season with three draws and, if they are to justify their billing an opening victory cannot be too long delayed. Thundery showers could disrupt Friday, so they will be relieved that the match is so far advanced.
Strikingly, England's presumed new-ball attack for the Ashes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson, who were opposing each other in a Championship match for the first time in five years, were overshadowed, taking only two wickets between them. Both of those fell to Broad, and even they weren't much to write home about, Steven Croft caught at first slip as he lashed at a wide one, and Colin de Grandhomme to a similar delivery which was dispatched as far as square third man where Hameed took a good diving catch.
Hutton now has 17 Championship wickets at 14.4. Given the new ball, he claimed Luke Wells in his third over, Wells flirting with one that moved away a shade. Lancashire, largely through Bohannon, escaped to 109 for 2 as they took advantage of some inconsistent seam bowling. George Balderson also stood in as opener for the injured captain, Keaton Jennings, to good effect until Luke Fletcher, shirt riding halfway up his back with the effort (somebody should have a word with the laundry about potential shrinkage) had him caught at first slip.
That advantage disappeared as they lost six for 46 in 13 overs. Hutton was again at the heart of it, having Dane Vilas, back as captain again, caught at first slip for a first-ball duck, a routine delivery this; adding George Bell on the strike of lunch with one that shaped away; and, the over after Bohannon's departure, seeing Tom Hartley fall obligingly on the pull to one of three leg-side boundary riders - a fine catch by Ben Slater.
Tom Bailey then sallied forth with an unbeaten 48 from 29 balls, making room to leg, even before Olly Stone struck him a painful blow on the shoulder, with what could prove to be a vital late-order intervention.
"It's good form, good luck, a few things going my way," Hutton said. "We weren't as consistent with the ball as we would have liked, but we got the job done for what seems to be a respectable score."
It only looks respectable because of Hameed. The prolific Duckett lost his middle stump to a full-length ball from Bailey, who also forced Slater to chip airily to midwicket. Balderson's medium pace brought further joy: Matt Montgomery was unlucky; Joe Clarke appeared to think he was, but it had not been the first ball to seam a little and it won't be the last.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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County Championship Division One