Nottinghamshire drew their LV= County Championship match with Warwickshire at Edgbaston as the final day ended in something of a stalemate with the two captain’s shaking hands at the start of the final hour.
The visitors were indebted to a fifth wicket stand of 222 between Alex Hales and Chris Read – a county record against Warwickshire – as they managed to avoid the follow-on.
Read fell just short of his own century but Hales went on to reach 155 not out, at which point the innings was declared closed with Notts 148 adrift.
Second time around the home side had reached 86-3 by the early closure.
Mick Newell, Notts director of cricket, admitted his side had fought back well, having been 69-4 in their first innings.
“I didn’t think we could win after they scored 500 in the first innings so we had to just get as many points as we could in this game and to try and reduce the damage against Warwickshire in terms of the points deficit.”
On Hales’ performance Newell stated that he wished it had come earlier. “He played very well against Durham and he’s played very well here. Had he been performing like that four or five weeks ago then maybe he would have been closer to the front of the queue for Andrew Strauss’ Test position. As it is, he’s now got some t20 matches and the t20 World Cup to look forward to and if he does well in those he can make a claim for any other opportunities that may come up over the winter.”
During the morning session Hales brought up the sixth first class century of his career (153 balls 14x4) and second at Edgbaston, by claiming three boundaries in a single over from Tom Milnes. Two extra-cover drives took him from 91 to 99 and then a mistimed pull to a legside delivery was bottom-edged past the ‘keeper to take him into three figures.
Read, meanwhile, continued to punish anything with width as he went past his previous highest score on the ground (83).
Within sight of his own ton, though, he fell after a rush of blood when facing the slow left-arm of Ian Blackwell.
On 95 he charged towards the spinner, who threw the ball a touch wider and had him smartly stumped by Tim Ambrose.
Paul Franks (9) ensured Notts secured their third batting point, as his on-side flick off Rankin took the total to 302 but one ball later he tamely lifted the same bowler into the hands of Jim Troughton at mid on.
As the session drew to a close there was a break from the normal ‘play-for-lunch’ tradition as Graeme White skewed a ball from Blackwell high over Keith Barker at cover as he got off the mark with a 3. The next delivery saw Hales propel the spinner into the stand at the Pavilion End for the first six of the innings.
Thirty three more runs were still needed to avoid the follow-on at lunch, with Hales on 139 and White unbeaten on 7.
White added two more runs to his score but then lost his middle stump as the second new ball began to move around. The successful bowler, Chris Wright, then picked up another quick scalp as Andre Adams (4) skied the ball to gully.
Adams, hobbling out to the middle with Riki Wessels as his runner, swiped his first ball for four but then ballooned one high to William Porterfield.
Hales reached his 150 (19x4 1x6) but needed Luke Fletcher’s support to guide Notts to the follow-on mark, at which point the visitors promptly declared.
Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood began the Bears second innings, with a nominal 51 overs remaining in the day. They safely negotiated the first 13 of them but then Fletcher switched to the Birmingham End and had Chopra (27) given out leg before wicket by umpire Nick Cook.
White struck in the first over of the restart as Porterfield (3) was also trapped in front of his stumps. Jim Troughton (35) got off the mark with a straight six off White and played a succession of aggressive strokes until hit on the side of the head by a bouncer from Andy Carter.
After receiving treatment he hit White for another maximum but then edged the next delivery to Voges at slip.
With the clock showing ten minutes to five Troughton offered his hand to Read and stumps were drawn on the contest.
The result leaves Notts in third place in the table, 28 points behind leaders Warwickshire and nine points behind second-placed Sussex, with only two matches left.
Newell confirmed that Alex Hales and Michael Lumb will both be named in the Nottinghamshire team to face Surrey next week before departing at the end of day two.