Nottinghamshire lost their first LV= County Championship match of the season when they were bowled out for 349 in their second innings against Durham at Trent Bridge.

Set an unlikely victory target of 366, the home side maintained the required asking rate for much of the day, before falling 16 runs short.

Alex Hales scored a century, putting on 168 for the first wicket with Riki Wessels, who made 98, but once both had gone Notts lost wickets at crucial stages and came up just short.

Mark Wood was the bowling hero for Durham, claiming career-best figures of 5-78, leaving Notts director of cricket, Mick Newell, understandably frustrated.

“We had a good game and we lost. We’ve got just three points from this game and that’s a bit of a shambolic return from the four days but that’s what we’ve got.

“As long as we had a chance we kept going for it, certainly until Ben Phillips got out and maybe just afterwards we had a little dabble but we needed a bit more quality at the end and a bit more clarity of thought.

“But you can’t expect numbers nine, ten and eleven to get you over the line. We had a couple of decent scores but needed a few more runs from the middle order.”

The day had begun with Durham batting on for fifteen minutes, in their second innings. Paul Franks’ opening over of the day cost four runs as Callum Thorp got off the mark with an extra cover boundary. Graeme White was then called for a wide as he speared a delivery past the legs of Paul Collingwood, who then heaved the spinner into the Fox Road Stand.

There was an instant payback as White picked up his second wicket of the innings, bowling the Durham captain (59) around his legs.

Graham Onions (11 not out) joined Thorp and took the total on to 325-8 at which point Collingwood declared, leaving Notts to score 366 in 90 overs.

Wessels tucked Onions away on the legside for a couple from the first ball of the innings but then had an almighty scare before the end of the opening over.

A yorker was kept out with such force that the bottom portion of Wessels’ bat broke off, ballooned up into the air and almost came down on the stumps.

That was the only major alarm for the duo as they put on 94 together by lunch, with Wessels reaching his half century from 70 deliveries with 7 boundaries.

The restart saw Hales clip Borthwick away for two boundaries in the first over, to bring the 100 up.
Having combined in a stand of 171 at Hove in May, the pair ended two more length streaks. It was the first time that a Notts opening duo had put on a second innings century since a match at Oakham against Leics in May 2007 (Gallian and Shafayat)

It was also the first century stand by a Notts opening pair at Trent Bridge since August 2005, when Jason Gallian and Darren Bicknell added 115 at home to Middlesex.

Hales, without seeing as much of the strike as his partner, then brought up his own fifty – his fifth of the summer – from 86 balls faced, with seven boundaries.

The stand had reached 168 when Wessels slapped a wide delivery from Rushworth straight to Thorp at deepish gully.

Michale Lumb, needing 57 to become the first Notts player to reach 1,000 first class runs this season, only made 16 before sweeping Borthwick into the hands of Wood.

Adam Voges (2) was caught behind by a diving Mustard, to give Onions his tenth wicket in the match – only the third time he’d accomplished that.

Hales was on 98 at tea, with 136 still required from 35 overs. The opener then advanced to his first hundred of the season (144 balls 13x4), bringing up Nottinghamshire’s 1,500th first class ton in the process.

Shortly afterwards he was dismissed though. On 101 he almost had his feet whipped from beneath him as Wood’s full-pitched delivery rattled into his pads.

Steven Mullaney then hit the same bowler into the Fox Road Stand for six, to give hope that he may take Notts to the finishing line.

Wickets though, started to tumble with more regularity. Chris Read (8) was bowled by Wood and Paul Franks (13) lifted Borthwick to Thorp.

Graeme White (8) was out in the 80th over, with 63 needed from 61 balls. Ben Phillips (22) gave fresh hope by clubbing Borthwick for three boundaries in a row but he became Wood’s third victim and Luke Fletcher (5) and Andy Carter (0) fell to the same bowler.

Fletcher was actually bowled from the first ball of the penultimate over but Wood had over-stepped. He responded by knocking out a couple of stumps as the batsman tried to inspire a grandstand finish.

Carter (0) finished on a pair, given out lbw – leaving a crestfallen Mullaney on 60 not out.

The defeat leaves Nottinghamshire in third place in the table, seven points behind Sussex and 18 points behind leaders Warwickshire, who also have a game in hand.

Whilst Notts must still play the Bears twice, Mick Newell accepts that the Edgbaston side are firmly in the driving seat in the title race.

“It’s a tough ask for us now – we needed the points from this game to put us just behind Warwickshire.”