Nottinghamshire put themselves within five wickets of completing their third LV= County Championship win of the season as they reduced Lancashire to 39-5 at stumps on day three.
The Old Trafford side had been set a victory target of 328, after Notts had made 304 in their second innings, but were blown away, losing half their side in just 15.2 overs.
Understandably Chris Read, the Notts skipper, felt the day had gone well. “We got pretty close to what we believed would be a competitive total and then to go out there and take five wickets in an hour was very satisfying.”
"Fingers-crossed, we’ll wake up to blue skies in the morning!” Chris Read
Read complimented the work of his batsmen, having scored 54 himself. “A lot of hard work went into getting that total. It’s the kind of wicket where you start to feel in after a while and then you get a delivery or two which reminds you that its perhaps a little more difficult to bat on than you think.”
Bad weather would seem to be the only obstacle between Notts and a fourth day victory but the captain is optimistic. “I’ve had a look at the forecast and it looks OK. Fingers-crossed, we’ll wake up to blue skies in the morning!”
The early morning period involved several discussions between both camps as to when Jimmy Anderson could bowl for Lancashire. He was off the field for much of the second day, feeling ill. Although he attempted to return and make up for the time lost in his absence he was advised by the umpires that, given his condition, this wasn’t necessary.
In light of the actual regulations he shouldn’t have been able to bowl until 2.38pm but, according to Mike Watkinson the Lancs director of cricket, a common-sense decision was reached and he paid tribute to Mick Newell and Chris Read for agreeing that a full-time penalty would be inappropriate.
As it was the England man joined the attack after 35 minutes play and was immediately cut to the ropes for four by Patel.
By that stage, Notts had continued to build on their position with Lumb and Patel both rotating the strike nicely.
Lumb reached his fifty (224 mins 173 balls 4x4) but then lost his partner after an hour of play.
Luke Proctor, the fifth bowler used, had accounted for Patel (39) in the first innings and did so again, thanks to a thin edge to the ‘keeper.
The stand had been worth 76 but only two runs later Lumb (62) departed also, nicking Anderson to Horton at slip.
James Taylor and Chris Read took Notts to a lunch-time score of 195-4, an overall lead of 218 with five sessions remaining in the match.
The pair batted beautifully after the resumption, racing to a century stand, the highest of the match. Taylor, with his highest championship score for the county, made 46, whilst Read reached 54.
Both were taken behind the wicket by Gareth Cross, who also caught Paul Franks (4) shortly afterwards, to give Anderson his third victim of the innings.
Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad added a quickfire 26 before rain brought an early interruption to the afternoon session.
The resumption brought three swift wickets for Lancashire as Anderson blew away the tail. Broad (12) chipped to mid on off Kerrigan but Swann (12) and Andre Adams (0) fell to consecutive deliveries from the England bowler.
Setting off in pursuit of their victory target the home side were rocked immediately when Broad had Paul Horton caught at second slip by Swann from just the second delivery.
The England pace-ace then sent back Karl Brown, lbw for 7.
Adams continued to maintain his stranglehold over the Lancashire batsman by removing Stephen Moore (13) and Steven Croft (0), with Swann picking up the other wicket to fall.
The spinner had begun the innings on a hat-trick after taking 2-in-2 at the end of the home side’s first dig but, although he missed out on the milestone, he struck with his 6th delivery having Ashwell Prince (14) caught at slip by Hales.
With Notts sensing that a 3-day success might be possible their hopes were dashed when the latest in a succession of very dark clouds curtailed play with 21 overs remaining unbowled in the day.