CCD1 REVIEW: Tight at the top as Nottinghamshire found wanting by Warwickshire

The story of Division One in this season’s LV= County Championship has been one of no side being able to pull away at the top of table. It proved to be the case once again at Edgbaston as leaders Nottinghamshire were unable to defeat Warwickshire and so have their advantage at the top kept down to just eight points, having played a game more than their rivals.

“We’ve missed a massive opportunity,” Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket admitted to ESPNcricinfo. “We could have taken a big lead and put a really big gap between us and Warwickshire. We bowled rubbish to Chris Wright. He made batting look comfortable, but that was largely due to our poor bowling.

“Wright’s partnership with Chris Woakes in the first innings was crucial, too. We wouldn’t have enforced the follow-on, but we should have had a much larger lead.”

Wright, indeed, was an unlikely batting star for Warwickshire today. Coming in as night-watchman last night, he took the heat out of the Notts bowlers early on the fourth morning with a knock of 45. Sam Hain (63) and Tim Ambrose (82 not out) then added 128 for the fourth-wicket to help complete the three-wicket win.

Nottinghamshire had, unusually for them, picked a specialist in their squad for this game in the form of Gary Keedy and how they were left wishing he was in their eleven on the final day. All-rounder Samit Patel got through 23 overs of his left-arm spin and was comfortably the pick of their bowlers with three for 36.

As Newell alluded to, a crucial passage in the game came in the hosts’ first innings. They had slumped to 125 for five and 227 for eight, but Wright and Chris Woakes put on 108 for the ninth-wicket. Wright’s contribution was 65 - his seventh first-class half-century - while Woakes was out nine short of three figures to bring to an end a relatively poor run of form with the bat.

Nottinghamshire had been in virtual cruise control on day one as what must rank as the most aggressive batting line-ups in the competition romped to 397 for seven. Alex Hales was the man mainly responsible with 183 off 224 balls, although Phil Jaques and Riki Wessels did both pass 50. Unfortunately, the last five wickets fell for the addition of only 10 runs as Notts squandered a chance to establish and early and unassailable lead.

“That was a great advert for domestic cricket,” Dougie Brown, the victorious Warwickshire director of cricket said afterwards. “Division One is as strong as I can remember it, with lots of good players getting an opportunity to show what they can do.

“We’re right back in the race now (in third). We bowled as badly as I’ve ever seen us bowl in the first innings and, at that point, there was only one winner, but Chris Woakes was outstanding. He is a natural leader and an impressive bloke and Nottinghamshire relinquished a position of strength.”

Northamptonshire held Middlesex to an honourable draw at Lord’s to bring to an end a string of defeats that began in mid-April. Steven Crook was their batting star with a maiden first-class century against his former county. His 131 that formed a seventh-wicket stand with Andrew Hall (75) that was worth 144 lifted Northants from 123 for five to 384. Another former Middlesex staff member, 21 year-old James Kettleborough had been the only batsmen to fire up until that point with 73.

Middlesex’s batsmen, by contrast, had enjoyed things from the start. Skipper Chris Rogers (86) and Championship debutant Nick Gubbins (54) put on 128 for the first-wicket. Dawid Malan then rammed home the advantage with 154, while John Simpson made 67 against an increasingly weary visiting attack.

The hosts then decided against anything too daring by way of a second innings declaration, leaving Northamptonshire needing 304 in little over half a day. They ended on 82 for three.

A fine effort from Lancashire’s batsmen on the final day at Taunton allowed them to take a draw from their fixture against Somerset. Usman Khawaja made 60 and Steven Croft an unbeaten 59 during an unbroken sixth-wicket stand with Paul Horton that was worth 92 in almost 38 overs. Opener Horton had been forced to retire hurt at the end of the third day after taking a blow.

Earlier, Lancashire’s first innings had been built around an epic effort from Horton as he single-handedly helped them to a competitive total of 266 with 140. Alfonso Thomas and Lewis Gregory had done the bulk of the damage to the middle-order and ended with three wickets apiece.

The early part of the Somerset innings of 484 was dominated by Marcus Trescothick. He broke Lionel Palairet’s century-old record of 7228 runs for the most scored at Taunton in first-class cricket early in a knock that would eventually yield 128. A man at the other end of his career, Craig Overton, then stole the show. He fell agonisingly short of a maiden century and was almost in tears after being caught off Simon Kerrigan (4-168) for 99. He and Alfonso Thomas (54) added an important 140 for the ninth-wicket to set up Somerset’s impregnable, but ultimately not winning, position.

DIVISION ONE STANDINGS

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Nottinghamshire 11 4 3 0 4 0 150
Yorkshire 10 4 1 0 5 0 142
Warwickshire 10 4 3 0 3 0 127
Somerset 10 3 1 0 6 0 127
Middlesex 10 4 3 0 2 1 124
Durham 9 2 1 0 6 0 113
Lancashire 11 2 3 0 6 0 109
Sussex 10 2 3 0 4 1 102
Northamptonshire 9 0 7 0 2 0 42

Daniel Grummitt

Cricket Writer at World Cricket Badger
Daniel first began writing about cricket in 2011, having been a fan of the game ever since his Grandad introduced him to it at the age of 10.

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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