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Recent Match Report – Durham vs Notts 2022

Nottinghamshire 488 for 9 dec (Slater 225*, James 108, Duckett 54, Potts 6-107) beat Durham 230 (Dickson 54, Patterson-White 5-54) and 117 (Pattinson 3-34, Fletcher 3-46) by an innings and 141 runs

Nottinghamshire were incredibly courteous when their excellent third-place finish in Division One last season was belatedly ruled to be an irrelevance by a dilatory ECB and they were packed off to the second tier based on pre-Covid finishing positions. Well, clearly, blessed are the meek because, on the evidence of their unexpected trouncing of Durham in three days at Emirates Riverside, they shall inherit the earth. Or, at the very least, inherit a deserved place next season back in the top division.

For Durham, who have been widely identified as promotion candidates, this loss by an innings and 141 runs will be a considerable disappointment. Notts and Middlesex (who blew aside Glamorgan, surprise conquerors of Notts at Trent Bridge last week) have both secured victories with more than a day to spare and, in doing, so have established themselves as the counties to beat.

This was an outcome that had not seemed remotely feasible on the second evening. A dry pitch that had been lifeless in the extreme as Notts progressed towards an eventual declaration at 488 for 9 had been further battered by sunshine and stiff northerly winds and the result was occasional grip and uneven bounce that Nottinghamshire’s powerful pace attack utilised to deadly effect.

There had been enough evidence of low bounce in the later stages of Notts’ innings to warn that application of the heavy roller might be best avoided. There was swing for the new ball, too, and in the 20 overs up to tea half the Durham side had capitulated. Within 33.5 overs, Durham were dismissed for 117, the only defiance of note coming from their captain, Scott Borthwick, who clung on for 25 from 60 deliveries before he was last out, clipping to midwicket.

“This probably boils down to the first innings where we bowled out for 230 on a good pitch,” Borthwick said. “We were at least 150 runs under-par. If we go on to get 350 or 400, then today doesn’t happen. They bowled well, they hit the wicket hard and found uneven bounce. But we didn’t soak up any pressure.”

Durham’s one consolation will be the vigour of Matthew Potts, who took six wickets in an innings for the second time in a week and whose reputation is growing fast as a four-day player. But Chris Rushworth, 35 now, and for so long the mainstay of their attack, did not take a wicket in the match and may struggle to adapt if he is denied the sappier northern pitches on which he has so prospered. The groundsman had better hide his moisture meter.

Notts were clinical in their use of a surface that was much more demanding than on the second day, hitting the pitch hard and targeting the stumps. The potency of their pace attack was emphasised by the similarity of the first three wickets. Whether the ball was in the hands of Luke Fletcher, James Pattinson or Dane Paterson, the result was identical: initial inswing, accentuated off the seam and Michael Jones, Keegan Petersen and Sean Dickson all back in the hutch.

Jones’ demise was the most predictable because he twisted his left ankle while fielding, and even though he fielded long enough to ensure he could open the batting, he looked far from fit.

The most difficult delivery accounted for Petersen, snaking back wickedly. Petersen did not look happy, but linguistically it was a considerable relief because Petersen facing a combination of Paterson, Pattinson and Patterson-White – not to mention the stumper, Peter’s son – was too problematic to contemplate.

Two failures here for David Bedingham were also critical for Durham, Paterson forcing an inside-edge onto his thigh pad and a simple catch. Ned Eckersley, the keeper, and Ben Raine look a place too high at Nos 6 and 7. Fletcher removed both of them on either side of the tea interval, Eckersley shouldering arms to lose his off stump, Raine lbw to one that kept slightly low. The uneven bounce, though, apart from preying on a batter’s mind, had not directly contributed to the tumble of wickets.

Nott’s day-two century makers awoke to different realities. Ben Slater extended his overnight 164 to a career-best 225 not out, but Potts soon dispelled Lyndon James, having him dropped at first slip by Borthwick before removing his middle stump with one that scudded back sharply – the first sign that batting would be a far more perilous business than on the previous day.

Raine’s first over of the day accounted for Steven Mullaney and Tom Moores before he pinned Patterson-White lbw for one in his second. Visions of Notts making carefree progress to 500 by lunch were quickly abandoned, but Slater doubled down on his efforts of the previous day, batting in all for slightly more than 10 hours, and Pattinson offered stout support in an eighth-wicket stand of 74.

It took Potts’ return for Durham to find an answer, but 35 overs in an innings is a dangerous workload for a bowler of his type, especially in a run of seven matches in as many weeks. If benign pitches expose the inadequacies of English spin bowling then long-term gains could be overshadowed by the fear that there won’t be a promising pace bowler left standing by the end of May.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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