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Joe Clarke century powers Nottinghamshire on used wicket

Runs on board could be critical as home side opt for two spinners on same surface as Essex loss

Joe Clarke turns the ball off his legs, Hampshire vs Nottinghamshire, Ageas Bowl, County Championship, April 6, 2023

Joe Clarke turns the ball off his legs  •  Getty Images

Nottinghamshire 305 for 6 (Clarke 105, Slater 70) vs Worcestershire
Choosing to start a second game on the same pitch they used for their opening match at Trent Bridge last week, Nottinghamshire included two spinners in their line-up and unsurprisingly batted when winning the toss on the first day of their Vitality County Championship meeting with Worcestershire.
With Joe Clarke going towards a second hundred in three innings, an increasingly rampant third-wicket stand of 133 included an onslaught of 41 from the first six overs after lunch that seized the afternoon initiative.
Ben Slater, however, fell for 70 before Clarke, one of three home players appearing against his old club, advanced to 105 until caught behind 25 minutes after tea but Worcestershire could not quite regain the balance by a close with Nottinghamshire at 305 for six.
New Zealander Nathan Smith returned three for 62 overall whilst fellow overseas signing, Barbadian Jason Holder, proved tight if wicketless. Pleasingly it was 20-year old Josh Baker's left-arm spin that finally removed Clarke, who had so savaged him earlier.
It had been an anxious start for the home side on the surface that had seen them bowled out for 80 and lose to Essex just four days earlier. Both openers were gone by the eighth over as Nathan Smith, Worcestershire's new import this year, struck twice in his opening 19 balls.
The Kiwi hit Haseeb Hameed's middle and leg stumps with a full one when the home captain, beaten on the outside edge but losing balance aiming to leg, fell for eleven and Ben Duckett, out for nine, soon touched a defensive edge to the wicket keeper. Just before lunch, Slater, on 40, survived a sharp low chance to short leg off Baker.
During the onrush of fours and sixes that followed on resumption, Slater edged a drive at the same bowler on 53 that flashed between keeper and slip, neither of them moving. Though four men were latterly placed on the boundary for Clarke, he accelerated from 16 to 68 in just 48 balls before throttling back.
Slater, caught behind, fell flicking at a ball down the legside from Adam Finch and Smith returned for a second spell in which the South African, Matt Montgomery, driving, was taken at first slip for eleven. But tea found Nottinghamshire at 223 for four, Clarke on a tantalising 98 not out.
His century, with three sixes, came up from the second delivery of the evening off 168 balls but first Jack Haynes, another former Worcester man, for 15 and then Clarke himself, top-edging his cut behind for 105, fell in four overs. The new ball was taken as soon as it became available, 35 minutes later, without breaking through as the seventh-wicket reached an unbroken 67.
Lyndon James was 39 at the close with Calvin Harrison, South African born but New Zealand raised, on a resolute 25 from fully 82 balls at the other end. His leg spin gained appreciable turn in the previous game against Essex and, on what will be a six-day old pitch on Saturday, could yet prove influential with the left-arm spin in tandem of Liam Patterson-White, selected for the first time since last May.

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County Championship Division One