Nottinghamshire ended the First Day of their LV= County Championship match against Durham at Trent Bridge on a positive note by dismissing three top order batsmen as the visitors closed on 44-3, in response to the home side’s 270 all out.
Alex Hales’ 115 was the one outstanding innings of the day – his second ton of the summer, to go with seven other half century-plus scores.
“Hopefully I’m starting to get the hang of converting fifties now,” he said afterwards.
“I did offer a chance on 96, so was pleased I managed to still be there. I was just trying to steer a ball to third man and hit it straight to gully but he was in the middle of a bowling spell and fortunately put it down.”
Hales also took a fine slip catch to get rid of Michael Di Venuto, when Durham batted. “I’ve dropped a couple recently so was pleased that one stuck. He’s a quality bat who gets a lot of good scores so it was important to hang on.”
The opener also paid tribute to Darren Pattinson. “His late hitting gave us a fairly decent score on that wicket and he then bowled really well to get two big wickets and we feel we’re right in this match now.”
Nottinghamshire’s starting eleven showed a couple of changes from the side that drew with Somerset in the match that ended on Saturday, with Pattinson and White recalled to replace Shreck and Patel, the latter being away on England duty.
Under cloudy, grey skies Hales and Karl Turner opened the batting for the home side after Chris Read had won the toss, and they worked their way to 21 before Durham struck.
Turner, playing against his former county, had reached 8 when he misjudged a delivery from Callum Thorp which nipped back and clipped the unprotected off stump.
The arrival into the attack of Durham’s championship debutant Mark Wood enabled Hales and new partner Darren Bravo to increase the scoring rate – seventeen coming from his first three overs as the 50 arrived in the 16th over.
As the sunshine burst through, Bravo emphatically showed his class with three powerfully struck off-side boundaries but then failed to get out of the 20s for the second match running. On 23 he went hard at a delivery from Ruel Braithwaite and feathered one through to ‘keeper Mustard.
Hales had shown a liking for the shorter boundary on The New Stand side of the square and stroked a series of shots through that region to reach his own fifty from 83 deliveries, with 7 fours and joined by Riki Wessels, he eased Notts trough to lunch on 116-2.
The first ball after the restart almost brought Durham their third victim. Wessels, pulling at Claydon, miscued and the ball just fell out of the reach of Mark Wood running and diving from square leg.
With Hales timing the ball sweetl, he dominated the third wicket partnership to such an extent that Wessels only scored 3 out of the 51 they added together before the latter nicked behind.
Steven Mullaney (8) was also caught behind, this time off Wood, as he tried to pull away to leg. That reduced the score to 151-4.
The nervous nineties affect different players in different ways. At the same time as Sachin Tendulkar was being dismissed in the Oval Test Match for 91, Alex Hales was dropped on 96.
Trying to run Mitch Claydon down to the third man boundary, Hales steered the ball straight to gully where Thorp dropped a routine chance.
Hales’ third first class century – and second of the summer – followed shortly afterwards (132 balls 15 x 4).
Chris Read made 17 – falling to another Mustard catch – before Durham got the key wicket of the opener. Hales (115) heaved Braithwaite away to leg but unfortunately picked out the lone boundary fielder, Mark Stoneman, who took a good catch diving forward.
Andre Adams (13) was dropped by Wood on 4 but fell to a catch at long on by Smith soon after tea. Claydon then followed that wicket up with the one of Paul Franks (34) who edged to Di Venuto at second slip.
Ian Blackwell’s miserly 14 over spell gained some reward when he trapped Graeme White (0) in front.
Some lusty blows from Darren Pattinson – which included three sixes over the on-side ropes – gave the innings a final flourish which took the total on to 270 all out.
22 overs remained in the day when the visitors began their reply and they lost Di Venuto (2) early on, edging Fletcher to Hales at first slip.
Pattinson’s cavalier batting approach had fired him up for a lively new ball spell and he claimed two wickets in four deliveries in the tenth over.
Former Notts’ man Will Smith (5) was bowled without playing a shot and then Mark Stoneman (17) was taken by Mullaney at third slip.
Collingwood and Benkenstein took the score on to 44-3 but with 13 balls left in the day the umpires decided that the light was unfit to continue and called play off.