Worcestershire CCC’s bowlers toiled in vain against centurion Ben Duckett, then the Worcestershire batsmen were on the receiving end of an inspired spell from Luke Fletcher on day three of the LV=Insurance County Championship match with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
The County had been looking to make early inroads after Nottinghamshire resumed on 51-3 from 15.5 overs, on a green-tinged pitch under leaden skies and with the floodlights on, after the entire wash-out of the second day.
It appeared to be perfect conditions for bowling, especially after three wickets had gone down for 13 runs in quick succession on Thursday evening.
But Duckett frustrated their ambitions with a superb unbeaten 177 from 196 balls with 19 fours, and he received excellent support from Lyndon James and Steven Mullaney in a total of 400-5 declared.
Daryl Mitchell and Josh Tongue were the wicket-takers today, but in general, the attack failed to pose the problems or exercise the control they would have wanted.
It was a different story when Worcestershire batted – in sunny conditions – and they had no answer to the bowling of Fletcher who upstaged England paceman Stuart Broad.
He picked up his third five-wicket haul of the campaign, and no one could cope with his relentless accuracy as he finished with figures of 8-4-20-5 as Worcestershire closed on 53-6 from 17 overs.
They will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes on day four in a bid to salvage the eight points on offer for a draw after being outplayed in all departments today.
There was a 25-minute delay for rain before play got underway, with Dillon Pennington and Alzarri Joseph, the wicket-takers on day one, opening the attack.
The fourth-wicket pair of Duckett and James had a few early scares during the morning session.
Duckett picked up a fortunate boundary when he edged Tongue – who replaced Joseph – between third slip and gully.
James nicked successive deliveries from Pennington just short of Tom Fell at third slip.
But the batsmen gradually prospered, and Duckett brought up a run a ball half-century with seven boundaries.
Pennington returned for a second burst before lunch and again twice beat the forward push of James, and he had figures of 12-4-24-2 at lunch when the total stood on 150-3.
There was a 20-minute break from rain after the interval, and Duckett and James continued to build a sizeable partnership when play resumed.
The 100 partnership was completed from 156 balls, and then James completed his fifty from 112 deliveries with seven boundaries.
Club Captain Joe Leach continued to ring the changes in an effort to make the breakthrough, but the batsmen were on top and did not relinquish their grip on proceedings.
Duckett brought up an excellent century when sweeping Brett D’Oliveira for his 11th four from 126 balls.
Another rain break led to an early tea, and it was Mitchell who broke the stand with the third ball after the players returned.
James on 78 tried to pull the seamer and only top-edged a comfortable catch to Brett D’Oliveira at the cover to end a partnership of 205 – a fourth-wicket record for Nottinghamshire against Worcestershire.
Nottinghamshire captain Mullaney was in an aggressive mood and raced to a quickfire half-century.
He dominated a partnership of 142 in 19.4 overs and hurried Nottinghamshire towards maximum batting points.
Mullaney’s 88 came from just 73 balls with four sixes and eight fours before he tried to pull a Tongue delivery and feathered through to Ben Cox – his fourth catch of the innings.
Duckett brought up the 400 in 84.3 overs, and it immediately prompted the declaration.
Pennington had figures of 19-4-66-2, Joseph 18-0-80-1, Mitchell 14-0-77-1, Tongue 11.3-0-75-1, Leach 18-2-70-0 and D’Oliveira 4-0-22-0.
Worcestershire were left with 17 overs batting, and England opening bowler Stuart Broad bowled aggressively in a new ball partnership with Fletcher.
Mitchell clipped Broad through mid-wicket for his first boundary and then deliberately uppercut him over the slips for another four.
Fletcher broke through in his first over when Jake Libby (2) popped up a legside delivery to Ben Slater at short leg.
Tom Fell (10) attempted to pull Broad and lobbed up a gentle legside catch for keeper Tom Moores.
Fletcher picked up three wickets in the eighth over of the innings with Mitchell (9) – offering no shot – Brett D’Oliveira (0) and Riki Wessels (0), with his first ball, all leg before.
Jack Haynes (14) produced the shot of the innings to date with a drive for four straight back down the ground off Fletcher before he was also lbw in the penultimate over.