Friday, April 12th, 2024

Nottinghamshire vs Worcestershire: Day one report & highlights

Nathan Smith was again amongst the wickets for Worcestershire on a hard fought opening day of the Vitality County Championship encounter with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

The New Zealander followed up his impressive performance in the draw with Warwickshire at Edgbaston by returning 3-56 from 16 probing overs.

A see saw day saw Smith make two early breakthroughs before Joe Clarke hit a fine century and then Worcestershire responded with four wickets in 24 overs only for Lyndon James and Calvin Harrison to add 67 in steering Nottinghamshire to 305-6 from 96 overs.

The Worcestershire seamers stuck to their task on a day of attritional cricket where once the Kookaburra ball had become softer there was little lateral movement.

There was also an encouraging performance from spinner Josh Baker who had hit the winning runs to seal promotion against Yorkshire at Headingley in his previous appearance in September.

He was brought into the side with the match being played on a used pitch, the same one as in operation for Nottinghamshire’s opening fixture against Essex.

Baker was targeted by centurion Clarke after lunch but held his nerve and responded positively and finished with 24-6-81-1.

The 20-year-old came into the Worcestershire for Matthew Waite in the only change from the side which performed so well against Warwickshire in the opening Championship match at Edgbaston.

Nottinghamshire skipper Haseeb Hameed won the toss and opted to bat first on a sunlit morning with the Kookaburra ball again is use.

Joe Leach and Smith shared the new ball and it was the 2024 overseas player who made the first breakthrough with 19 on the board.

Hameed (11) was beaten all ends up by a Smith delivery which was angled back in and there was the spectacular sight of two stumps flying out of the ground.

Runs came at a healthy rate although new batter, Ben Slater, edged a delivery from Smith for four between third and fourth slip.

Smith was working up some good pace and he was rewarded with another breakthrough.

England opener Ben Duckett (9) was undone by a delivery or extra bounce which he edged through to Gareth Roderick at 34-2.

Smith was replaced by Jason Holder after an opening spell of 5-0-20-2 and the West Indian delivered the first maiden of the morning.

Adam Finch came on for Leach in a double change and Ben Slater was beaten by a ball of extra bounce which climbed through to Roderick.

Slater and Clarke knuckled down in the face of some accurate bowling before Baker had his first bowl from the Radcliffe End at 58-2.

Smith was given another burst shortly before lunch and before the Kookaburra ball traditionally becomes softer and provides less assistance for bowlers.

Baker settled into a good spell and nearly broke through on the brink of lunch when Slater on 40 turned the ball inches short of Kashif Ali at short leg.

The afternoon session produced 140 runs from 34 overs for two wickets as the Kookaburra ball softened and there was a lack of lateral movement.

Clarke accelerated from 16 to 98 not out by the tea interval.

The Worcestershire bowlers stuck to their task and D’Oliveira was not afraid to try different tactics with Finch having a spell of attempting to bounce out Clarke.

The third wicket stand was worth 133 when Finch did make a breakthrough with Slater (70) caught down by the leg side by Roderick after a patient knock.

Smith then picked up his third wicket of the innings to account for Matthew Montgomery (11).

Holder held onto a good catch away to his right at wide slip after Montgomery had nicked a delivery from Smith with the total 190-4.

Nottinghamshire reached 223-4 off 64 overs by tea with Smith having figures at that stage of 13-2-49-3.

But Worcestershire seized the initiative at the start of the final session with two quick wickets.

Leach struck for the first time when Jack Haynes (15) was given out lbw to a delivery swinging back into the batter.

Clarke completed a 168 ball century but on 105 he fell to Baker who picked up a deserved wicket.

Roderick held onto a sharp catch after Clarke (105) attempted to cut a delivery which turned away.

Baker and Adam Finch kept the scoreboard quiet before the second new ball was taken at 260-6 from 80 overs.

But James (39) and Harrison (25) remained together and experienced relatively few alarms in steering Nottinghamshire through to the close with their partnership so far worth 67.

Nathan Smith said: “It wasn’t a bad day, pretty even. I think if we had one or two more wickets it would probably swing it in our favour.

“But it is a good batting wicket and, if you add two wickets on tomorrow morning, it’s our noses just in front.

“The nature of the Kookaburra is the new ball does tend to travel a bit but that is your best chance of taking wickets.

“We got a few early and then just had to tie them back down through the middle.

“At the moment the wickets are a little slow, and this is also a used wicket. It would be interesting to see what a Duke would do on there. I think it would balance it out a little bit.

“Josh Baker bowled beautifully. Joe Clarke got after him a little bit through the middle and batted nicely but Josh came back after tea and did well.”