Alex Hales’ second first class century was the stand-out moment for Nottinghamshire on the second day of their LV= County Championship match against Somerset at Trent Bridge.
The 22 year old ended the day with an unbeaten 130, six adrift of the 136 he scored against Hampshire last season. Notts closed the day on 303-5 after Stuart Broad, bowling quickly and with great discipline, took three of the final five wickets to fall as the visitors’ first innings closed on 386.
Broad ended with figures of 5-95 and gained good support from Andre Adams, who ended with 4-93 but their efforts would have been wasted without the efforts of Hales, who understandably was delighted at reaching three figures having fallen in the nineties three times last season.
“It was very pleasing to convert this one – not just for myself but also because of the game situation." Alex Hales
“I knew how important it was to convert the start into a good total,” he said.
“I’ve also made three eighties this year in the championship and felt disappointed not to have reached a hundred.
“It was very pleasing to convert this one – not just for myself but also because of the game situation. It certainly wasn’t easy to begin with, so I’m pleased to have come through that and realise that there is still work to do when we start again in the morning.”
Hales paid tribute to a couple of his teammates.
“I thought Adam Voges and Steven Mullaney batted beautifully and both got out to exceptional deliveries,” he said.
“Chris Read then came in and reminded me about the need to re-apply myself.”
The first hour of the day had certainly belonged to the home side as they removed the final five Somerset batters for the addition of only 45 runs.
Steve Kirby was the first to go, trapped in the crease by Broad. New bat Peter Trego looked to have edged behind off Adams but Notts’ celebrations were cut short with umpire Tim Robinson not upholding the appeal.
A bigger prize followed in the next Adams over though as Craig Kieswetter’s 5-hour vigil came to an end when he nudged one through to Read for a career-best 164.
Peter Trego miscued to point to give Adams his fourth wicket and then Broad blew away Adam Dibble and Murali Kartik to ensure maximum bowling points for the team and a five-wicket haul for himself.
There doesn’t need to be too much support when two centurions hog the batting card as Kieswetter (164) and Hildreth (137) had done but it is interesting to note that the next highest score in Somerset’s 386 was extras, with 27!
The reply began poorly, with Edwards (6) castled by Steve Kirby. Riki Wessels (24) would have been run out by six yards had Dibble not missed with a throw from square leg but he didn’t last much longer, edging Kirby to Hildreth at slip from the final ball before lunch.
Nottinghamshire’s third wicket fell in the 20th over and provided a moment of relief for Kieswetter. At the start of Trego’s over Samit Patel edged one which the ‘keeper spilled diving to his right.
Three balls later, a similar nick was gratefully accepted and Patel’s innings was curtailed on 13.
Alex Hales and Adam Voges then launched a counter-attack through the bulk of the afternoon, with both batsmen playing some eye-catching strokes as they put on a century from 134 deliveries.
Hales sixth half century in eight championship innings came when he clipped Kartik over Suppiah at midwicket. He immediately celebrated by despatching the next delivery for a straight six into the lower tier of the Radcliffe Road Stand.
On 59 he almost fell though, a leading edge against Kirby ballooned high over mid-off with fielder Chris Jones just getting a hand to it, reaching high over his shoulder.
Voges fourth fifty of the campaign followed swiftly afterwards but on 57 he misread a ball from Adam Dibble which nipped back sharply to send his off stump somersaulting out of the ground.
Joy for Dibble but huge disappointment for the Australian and his supporters.
Steven Mullaney sped into double figures as tea was reached on 177-4.
Hales survived his second ‘life’ on 68 when he slashed high to backward point where Hildreth got both hands to it but couldn’t hold on. Somerset didn’t help themselves by spilling Mullaney on 30, with Trescothick the culprit at slip.
Mullaney (49) fell with the score on 250 – this time the visiting captain did cling on to a sharp offering from the spin of Kartik.
Hales was on 98 at the time and after a reassuring word from his skipper Chris Read he caressed Kartik to the fence to reach three figures amidst audible relief and appreciation all around the ground.
In late evening sunshine, against a tiring attack, Hales and Read secured a third batting point for their side before closing on 303-5, a deficit of just 83.