Thanks to half centuries from three top order batsmen Nottinghamshire made 315-8 after electing to bat first on the opening day of their LV= county championship match against Middlesex at Lord’s.
62 from James Taylor, 58 from Riki Wessels and a patient 52 from Steven Mullaney enabled the visitors to pick up three batting points on a warm, sunny day in the capital.
James Harris and Steven Finn were the stand-out bowler for Middlesex, each collecting four wickets.
Taylor confirmed he was pleased to be amongst the runs after missing the Lancashire game through injury. “I felt pretty good considering that was only my third or fourth proper hit against bowling and was delighted with the way I was striking it.
“Obviously I was disappointed to get out in the sixties because I was looking for a really big score, that would have started my season nicely.”
On his skipper’s decision to bat first, Taylor commented, “It’s a pretty decent deck, on a nice sunny day, so we backed ourselves to put a score on the board. We feel we’ve done that, it’s a challenging total – a working total if you like – but you can never really judge a wicket until both sides have batted on it.”
The Notts starting eleven included Peter Siddle and Taylor, who replaced Jake Ball and Alex Hales.
As in that opening match Phil Jaques (14) got a start, twice clipping fours through midwicket before edging James Harris through to wicketkeeper John Simpson.
Michael Lumb, who made a pair against Middlesex at the start of last season, started confidently but then mistimed a pull off Steven Finn and was taken at midwicket by a well-judged running catch from Sam Robson.
Mullaney needed treatment for several minutes, from physio Jon Alty, after being struck on the right forearm by Finn
James Taylor, with increasing fluency, nudged ahead of his partner in the run up to lunch but then accelerated away after the resumption.
The second and third delivery of the afternoon session saw Taylor punch Finn for successive boundaries, one down the ground, one pulled behind square.
Taylor’s shot-selection produced boundaries all around the Lord’s outfield as he sped to his half century (63 balls 11x4) and on 53 he reached a career haul of 7,000 first class runs.
Harris returned to the attack and stemmed the run-rate with three consecutive maidens, the third of which was the over that turned the complexion of the day.
His first delivery trapped Taylor (62) lbw, as the batsman tried to whip to leg but played around the ball.
Samit Patel then fell fourth ball, snicking to the ‘keeper as he drove outside off stump.
Riki Wessels, fresh from making 90 in his last innings, crisply drove Murtagh back past him to the Nursery End fence to get off the mark.
Mullaney greeted the arrival of a Rayner spell with an uncharacteristic skip down the wicket to lift the off spinner over the ropes for the first maximum of the match.
Finn’s return finally brought his obdurate innings to an end. A ball after finely deflecting to the fine leg fence to bring up his half century (171 balls 5x4 1x6) Mullaney (52) pushed at the tall, fast bowler and edged into the waiting hands of Dawid Malan at first slip.
Wessels and Chris Read extended their stand to 86 before the second new ball was taken during the final session. Entrusted with it, Finn, removed both set batsmen in quick succession.
Read (40) had his stumps castled and Wessels (58) was taken at slip by Rayner.
Peter Siddle was bounced first ball by Finn but then responded with a couple of elegant shots in retaliation, including a sumptuous drive to the extra cover ropes.
Enjoying his debut Siddle (40) hit 5 boundaries and a six in a 35-ball stay before a leading edge off Harris flew to Eoin Morgan at point.
Luke Fletcher (20 not out) and Andy Carter (2 not out) saw it through to stumps, to secure a very useful first day advantage for the visitors.