A splendid 67 from Riki Wessels helped Nottinghamshire reach 223 in their first innings on the first day of their LV= County Championship match against Worcestershire at New Road.
Chris Read, who won the toss, added 37 and Adams Voges made 31 as the visitors were shot out in 67.3 overs after Notts had won the toss and elected to bat.
The home side replied with 77-2 during the final session with Charlie Shreck and Andre Adams each picking up a wicket.
With an overall lead of 146 in the match, Chris Read admitted his side weren’t sure what the wicket would do.
“At the toss I felt it was one of those occasions where if you are in doubt, then bat,” he said.
“We feel it is a 250 wicket and we weren’t too far away from that. Their new ball bowlers bowled very well and it wasn’t easy to begin with.
“Riki Wessels is a positive player and he took the decision to go for his shots and play positively. He played very nicely indeed.”
The Nottinghamshire skipper acknowledged that his side must now make early inroads on the second day.
“We didn’t put the new ball in the right areas enough times and we need to bowl with more consistency and put them under more pressure. If we can get a couple of early wickets then we are right in the contest.”
Notts made three changes from the last LV= County Championship match. Wessels was selected alongside Samit Patel, returning after England Lions duty, and Darren Pattinson – back after being sidelined with a hamstring injury – made his first championship start of 2011. Ali Brown, plus the absent England duo, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, were the players excluded.
Worcestershire’s side featured eight of the players that performed at Trent Bridge a month ago, with Neil Pinner, Ben Scott and Jack Shantry in for Ben Cox, Matt Mason and the injured captain Darryl Mitchell, with Moeen Ali leading the side. Ali’s first duty was to present county colours to Pinner, who was making his first class debut.
On a cloudy morning – after a lengthy peel of the bells from nearby Worcester Cathedral – play began with Wessels and Akhil Patel adopting different methods of approach to combat the new ball pairing of Damien Wright and Alan Richardson.
The debutant went after his shots and – apart from one streaky inside edge which went for a lucky four – proved difficult to contain, whereas the left hander played more defensively.
Richardson – who took nine wickets in the match at Trent Bridge - made the breakthrough at the start of the fourteenth over, as Patel nicked to the ‘keeper for 8. Mark Wagh fell in similar fashion to the same bowler for just 3.
Wessels pulled Richardson for a six over the shorter legside boundary and brought up his half century off 67 balls faced.
He lost his next partner shortly afterwards though, as Samit Patel (4) edged Gareth Andrew to Vikram Solanki at slip to reduce Notts to 68-3 in the 20th over.
Worcestershire could justifiably lay claim to the session, as they dismissed Wessels before the break for a splendid 67 – out of a team total of 91-4. Andrew picked up his second wicket with umpire John Steele upholding his lbw appeal.
Steven Mullaney brought the 100 up in the 29th over with a four to third man off Jack Shantry and he and Adam Voges saw it through to lunch on 105-4.
A further 34 were added after the break before both batsmen fell in quick succession –Voges (31), Mullaney (25) each edged Wright to give Scott his third and fourth catches of the innings.
Chris Read and Paul Franks, used to re-building many an innings over the years, nursed the score through the next 17 overs, adding 47 runs in the process.
The returning Richardson, on from the Diglis End for the first time, kissed the outside edge of Read’s bat but the ball fell short of Solanki at slip. Two deliveries later he gained better reward as the next snick offered the chance for Scott to again impress, with a fine diving catch low to his right.
Andre Adams wasted no time in adding to his recent tally of powerfully hit boundaries, taking three consecutive fours off Richardson as Notts went to tea on 213-7.
It took the home side just four more overs to knock off the remaining three wickets. Franks fell lbw to Wright for 19, Adams (21) pulled Ali for a six but then perished next ball and Shreck was cleaned up by the same bowler for 0.
There was an early worry for Notts soon after Worcs began their reply. Having bowled just 1.4 overs Darren Pattinson showed concern as he began flexing his hamstring and left the field, although he returned 15 minutes later.
In the mean-time Charlie Shreck pinned James Cameron in front of his stumps to give Notts an early breakthrough. Vikram Solanki began positively – caressing both Shreck and Andre Adams away for early boundaries.
The team fifty came up in the 15th over – bringing with it the game’s first partnership of that amount also. One over later Pattinson chased a ball out towards the midwicket boundary and, although he fielded the ball, he immediately signaled that he was in more discomfort and again left the field.
Franks was introduced into the attack, only to be pulled for a maximum by Solanki. The former England international looked in ominous form but immediately after running Adams to third man to bring up his fifty he fell lbw to the same bowler.
Solanki’s run a ball 52 had come out of 67 runs scored whilst he was at the wicket and contained eight boundaries and a six.
At the close Chris Read revealed that Darren Pattinson’s injury is unlikely to prevent him from bowling again in the match.