Mark Ealham claims the hard work put in by Nottinghamshire’s players in pre-season will stand them in good stead for the summer after opening the LV County Championship campaign with victory over Leicestershire.

Leicestershire 299 (Swann 3-30, Franks 3-43)
Notts 500 (Gallian 150, Hussey 105, Wagh 74, Swann 46)
Leicestershire 311 (Ealham 4-43, Sidebottom 3-49)
Notts 112-1 (Shafayat 41*)

Notts won by nine wickets
Notts 22 points, Leicestershire 5 points

Notts picked up maximum points in the local derby but the veteran all-rounder claimed it wasn’t all plain sailing on a pitch unusually dry after the recent fine weather.

He said: “That was a hard-fought win and it didn’t feel like a match being played in mid-April.

“With so little rain around for the past couple of weeks, the pitch was dry and hard didn’t offer as much for our seamers as we expected.

“Everyone stood up and put the hard yards in, and we were able to do that because we were all in such fine physical fettle after pre-season.

“Obviously we prefer to be out there winning games rather than watching the rain fall, but if the weather stays like this we will need to keep an eye on the stresses and strains over the course of the summer.”

Leicestershire batted for the whole of day one before being bowled out for 299, with the Notts attack fighting back after a 124-run opening partnership between Darren Robinson and John Maunders.

Paul Franks and Graeme Swann led the way with three wickets each, with both all-rounders showing excellent early form with the ball.

Opener Jason Gallian maintained his own good form from pre-season with a serene 150 - his 23rd first-class hundred for Notts - in two big partnerships with Mark Wagh and David Hussey.

New boy Wagh was disappointed to miss out on a century but stand-in skipper Hussey made no mistake with a quick-fire 105.

Chris Read, Franks and Swann all made useful contributions to leave the visitors on the back foot, and Ealham piled on the pressure with three wickets in quick succession in Leicestershire’s second innings.

Left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom picked up three wickets on the final morning to earn some reward for his consistent threat, before Gallian, Bilal Shafayat and Wagh calmly knocked off the runs.

Ealham added: “We had to adjust our length to compensate for the lack of nibble and it brought Graeme Swann in to bowl more overs than he might have expected.

“He did very well for us and was unlucky not to get more wickets than he did. All the bowlers did their part and the batsmen made big contributions.

“It’s an important win because the other teams playing this week will probably draw and it gives us an early advantage as we chase promotion.”