Nottinghamshire’s bowling woes have continued with the news that Mark Ealham will be out for up to three weeks after suffering a hamstring strain against Northamptonshire.

Northants 366 (Ealham 4-43, Swann 4-90)
Notts 526-9 (Wagh 152, Fleming 100, Patel 54)
Northants 152-3 (Harris 3-39)

Match drawn
Notts 12 points, Northants 11 points

Ealham was forced to retire hurt in Notts’ first innings and was unable to bowl on the final afternoon as the visitors pushed for an unlikely victory.

And the injury leaves Director of Cricket Mick Newell desperately short of options ahead of the crunch LV County Championship clash with Somerset at Trent Bridge, which starts on August 8.

Said Newell: “It will be tough to push for a win against Somerset without three of our leading bowlers in Ealy, Ryan Sidebottom and Charlie Shreck.

“At one stage against Northants we looked in a promising position when we had them 18-3 in their second innings but we needed both new ball bowlers in action and our spinners couldn’t maintain the tumble of wickets.

“For now, I want to get through the two Pro-40 games we’ve got coming up before I think about our bowling options for Somerset.

“But we can still be pleased with the fact that we continue to pick up bonus points and that is helping us stay in second place.”

With the first day’s play washed out by rain once more, Notts always faced an uphill task to force a win and close the gap on Division One leaders Somerset.

But Ealham led the attack with his usual nagging accuracy to keep chipping away at the Northants batting, although Newell was disappointed that the eighth-wicket pair of Johan van der Wath and ex-Notts seamer David Lucas were able to add 69 to the total.

Lucas was dropped by David Hussey in the slips on the evening of the second day, although the tail were quickly removed the next morning.

That gave the stage to Stephen Fleming and Mark Wagh, who both made sparkling hundreds in good time, while the rest of the batsmen also chipped in.

Notts were eventually dismissed after lunch on the final day with a 160-lead, and AJ Harris produced a superb opening spell to remove three of the Northants top four.

But with Ealham missing from the attack, no more breakthroughs proved possible - although had Hussey caught Rob White in Graeme Swann’s first over, things might have been different.

The result leaves Notts on 152.5 points, leaders Somerset on 168 and third-placed Essex on 124, with all three sides having played 11 games.