Nottinghamshire are leaders of Division One of the LV= County Championship – at least until tomorrow when Yorkshire’s match against Sussex reaches its conclusion – after beating fellow title hopefuls Middlesex in a high-scoring contest at Trent Bridge.
Middlesex racked up 417 for five on day one after being invited to bat and were eventually dismissed for 505 as Chris Rogers (180) and Eoin Morgan (191) hit big hundreds and added 272 for the third-wicket. That was enough to earn them a three-figure advantage on first innings as Tim Murtagh took six for 93 to dismiss the hosts for 392.
Paul Stirling then hit a breezy unbeaten 66 in the Middlesex second innings as they declared early on the final day to set Notts 385 in 86 overs. Amazingly, they won with more than 11 overs to spare by six wickets as five of their top six passed 50.
Alex Hales followed on a first innings 96 with 94 and put on 156 in less than 31 overs with opening partner Phil Jaques (76 off 79 balls). Michael Lumb then added 68 before James Taylor and Riki Wessels finished the job during an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership that was worth 103 and was dominated by the latter. Wessels finished on 74 off only 48 balls as he cleared the boundary on five occasions, while Taylor was content to play second fiddle and ended on 56 off 94 deliveries.
Wessels hit the winning runs and told the Notts website after the game: “I don’t know if the gaffer’s happy with me or not – I guess it’s a good job we won but I know he wasn’t expecting me to bat like that. I got one away to the short boundary from Steven Finn early on and thought I’d chance my arm and luckily got away with it. When the spinner bowled at me with no man out it was quite easy for me to keep going over the top. I expected them to push some guys out but they didn’t so it made it much easier for me to keep clearing the ropes.”
Durham triumphed by just 27 runs over Lancashire to leapfrog their vanquished opponents in the table and move out of the relegation zone. After setting the visitors 340 to win and then reducing then to 74 for four, having removed key men Usman Khawaja and Ashwell Prince, things looked as if they might be plain sailing. However, Jos Buttler hit an unbeaten century and shared 129 with Steven Croft for the fifth-wicket to bring Lancashire back into the contest.
Croft, though, fell to Ben Stokes for 72 and the lower-order, despite giving useful support, were unable to accompany Buttler through until the end. Simon Kerrigan was last man out, leg-before to the ever-excellent Chris Rushworth for a duck.
The first half of the match had belonged to Durham Championship debutant Paul Coughlin, who helped haul his side up from 123 for six to 338 in their first innings by top-scoring with 85 from number 10. He and Phil Mustard (70) added 150 for the ninth-wicket after Kyle Hogg had ripped through the upper and middle-order en route to figures of six for 70.
Coughlin – a 21 year-old seam-bowler from Sunderland – wasn’t done yet either and dispensed with Khawaja (86), Prince (49) and Croft (1) to help earn Durham a first innings lead of 72 runs. Scott Borthwick then set up the fourth innings target with 92 from number three in the Durham second dig.
There was more woe for Northamptonshire as their 2014 points tally limped along to just 31 following a heavy defeat to Warwickshire.
Rob Newton did provide some cheer by becoming the first Northants batsman to register a century this season as he made 114 in the home side’s useful total of 312. That, though, was soon dwarfed by the Warwickshire effort.
Sam Hain – Hong Kong-born, Australian raised, but pledging his allegiance to England; the land of his parents – made history by becoming the youngest Bears batsman to hit a Championship century at 18 years and 336 days. He knocked Ian Bell (19 years and 144 days) off the top spot as he calmly compiled 134. Keith Barker then added 102 from 111 balls as Warwickshire finally declared on a mammoth 602 for nine.
Northamptonshire’s resolve had perhaps evaporated by this point and they subsided to 185 all out in their second innings. England 12th man Chris Woakes picked up four for 53 to give him match figures of eight for 140 to press his claims for inclusion in the Headingley starting eleven.
He worked for CricketWorld.com for almost three years, leading their county and domestic cricket coverage and contributing to a book about the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, before joining the hugely ambitious World Cricket Badger early in 2014.
The first Test that he remembers watching was on Channel 4 - back before the ECB marginalised potential future fans by selling the TV rights to Sky Sports - when England beat Pakistan by an innings and nine runs at Lord’s.
Besides a passion for domestic cricket, he also has an unexplainable interest in all things Zimbabwe cricket!
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