Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Nottinghamshire 211 for 8 (Compton 71, Slater 53, Taylor 3-24) beat Northamptonshire 210 (Procter 44, Patterson-White 5-19) by two wickets
"I helped build that ground," said the taxi-driver, "Leastways I helped smooth the outfield and bloody stony it was, too. That's over thirty years ago now and they tell me it's settled down nicely. The old field used to be next to the football pitch and was slap in the middle of town but the Buckminster Estate sold it off to Sainsburys and gave the cricket club land out of town. Mind you, there's a lovely view over the Vale of Belvoir and you can sometimes see Belvoir Castle."
So there is and so, apparently, you can. Fittingly enough I'd only been in Grantham five minutes before being reminded of the power of the market economy. But places transcend the imprint of even their most famous daughters and Gorse Lane certainly deserved what became a day in the sun. Two years ago Nottinghamshire hosted Durham here only to the extent of turning up and watching torrential wash the game away. Covid-19 took care of the two matches scheduled in 2020 so this was fourth time lucky for the ground on the hill.
Perhaps it was fourth time lucky for many of the spectators who ringed this field, sometimes six-deep, and if so, they also deserved what became a climax to cherish when Dane Paterson thrashed Ben Sanderson for a straight six to secure the two-wicket win that ends Northamptonshire's interest in the Royal London Cup but leaves Nottinghamshire to battle for a qualification place on Thursday.
Six runs were needed off three balls when Paterson got out the long handle but there had been many other times in the previous half-hour or so when nerves had informed the shot selection of a Nottinghamshire side whose bright-badged caps and fresh faces betray the inexperience of youth. As wickets were lost and dot balls surrendered to the Steelbacks' three spinners it seemed probable that the match would hinge, unfairly perhaps, on the moments earlier in the game when Ben Slater swung Tom Taylor to James Sales at deep square leg and Ben Compton was bowled round his legs by Saif Zaib.
Taylor had made 53 and Compton 71. Notts were 154 for three in the 39th over and needed another 57 runs when the second of those vital wickets fell. It hardly required much insight to conclude that his team had wanted Compton to take them home. Once he and Slater were gone they needed Brett Hutton's big six off Zaib and 19 runs from a Sunderland-born bowling all-rounder whose 22 years make him almost an old pro in the current Notts dressing room. For yes, if this was a day Grantham CC will always treasure, it will surely also be one on which Liam Patterson-White revealed his wide-ranging ability to affect cricket matches. And it has not always been thus…
When Patterson-White made his Nottinghamshire debut against Somerset two seasons and a world ago he was so ill on the first day of the game that he took no part in it. Once recovered, he followed a four-ball nought with a five-wicket return but could not prevent his team losing by 132 runs in a season that ended, so we thought, with their relegation. One or two things have happened since those blissful afternoons in Taunton. Most notably for our present purpose, Patterson-White has taken another 32 first-class wickets and 13 in List A cricket, the last five of which came at a cost of 19 runs this afternoon at Grantham, where the pitch was plainly not averse to turning.
Northamptonshire were 112 for 3 in the 22nd over when Patterson-White came on at the Gorse Lane End. By the time he had completed an accurate ten-over spell replete with subtle changes of flight and pace, the visitors were 175 for eight and it needed some shrewd batting from Sanderson and Sales to see them struggle to 210. The slow left-armer was assisted by two factors: the first was a surface that offered help; the second was the presence at the Pavilion End of another slow-left-armer Fateh Singh, who conceded only 33 runs from ten overs in his third List A game. Between them the two spinners constricted the flow of runs that had seemed so free, first when Emilio Gay was batting and later when Luke Procter was making 44, his side's top score. But the batters were complicit, too: Gay slashed Tom Barber to Slater at deep point and Procter swept Patterson-White straight to Paterson at square leg. Even on a frisky wicket, just the sort of surface that should be used for more List A games, the Steelbacks' total was perhaps 25 light. It was a deficiency that returned to hurt them.
The crowd appreciated it all, of course. We had hardly got beyond the first Powerplay before the festival atmosphere that outground cricket so often engenders was present at Grantham.
The pylons beyond Wyville Road may be dull and one could also manage without the growl of traffic on the A1, yet when all these irksome assaults have been considered Gorse Lane remains a lovely home of cricket, a club in which its members obviously take great pride. They will have planned hard and worked long for this day and, as so often, the cricket did not let them down, Nottinghamshire should need no urging to return here and Liam Patterson-White may be especially keen to do so.
Northants vs Notts
Royal London One-Day Cup