Nottinghamshire’s bowlers struggled to contain the reigning county champions during the 58 overs of play that were possible on the third day of the LV= county championship match against Durham at Trent Bridge.
With Gordon Muchall registering an undefeated 158, the visitors were handily placed on 335-4 when play was halted an hour before the scheduled close on day three.
Andre Adams and Samit Patel were the two successful bowlers for Notts, who go into the final day holding a narrow advantage of just 42 runs.
“Durham played positively and have come out it in a better position than we have." Chris Read
In light of a wretched weather forecast, Chris Read felt it was a bonus to get in as many overs of play as were possible.
“The forecast looked terrible for the day,” said the Notts captain. “But to get out there was what both sides wanted to do. Ultimately, to get points is what we were after but we went into the day still looking at ways to win the match.”
Read admitted that the visitors had enjoyed their day. “Durham played positively and have come out it in a better position than we have. It’s hard to see how there will be a positive result in this match now but you never know, the forecast may be wrong again tomorrow. We’ll have to wait and see what the weather brings but if we d get out there we need to play a bit better than we have today and pick up as many points as we can.”
Against all expectation, and contrary to the weather reports, the morning drizzle abated and play was able to start at 1.30pm, under floodlights, with Durham resuming from their first innings score of 78-2.
Muchall began positively, soon racing away from his overnight partner Keaton Jennings, with both beginning the day unbeaten on 24.
Peter Siddle and Stuart Broad were unable to break the stand and gave way to Ajmal Shahzad, who went for 14 in his first over as Muchall brought up his fifty (48 balls 9x4).
The breakthrough came after 50 minutes of play, in the 39th over of the innings, when Jennings (40) feathered a delivery from Andre Adams through to Chris Read, who took a sharp, low catch to ensure that Notts picked up at least one bowling point.
On 86 Muchall had a life – though it was as difficult as you could imagine – as he edged Siddle and the ball flew, at great speed, high to Riki Wessels left hand at first slip. The attempt was instinctive – and saved a boundary – but just for a moment it looked as if the ball had stuck.
Muchall’s first ton since May 2011 duly arrived (102 balls 17x4 1x6) as he greeted the introduction of Samit Patel with a soaring straight six and a vicious leg side pull for four.
Steven Mullaney, like Shahzad, also went for 14 in his first over of the innings, with Ben Stokes joining in the run-spree.
The left-hander, playing his first match since breaking his wrist in March, batted faultlessly in advancing to his own half century (67 balls 9x4) just before tea.
Stokes (61) perished soon after the restart, lofting Patel to widish long on where Michael Lumb took an excellent diving catch to end a stand that was ultimately worth 133.
Paul Collingwood, a day after celebrating his 38th birthday, began with attacking intent – getting away with a lofted four before pulling Patel over midwicket for 6.
A couple of overs later he delivered another mighty blow – this time high into the Radcliffe Road Stand.
Muchall had a reprieve on 133 when he charged Patel and both he and ‘keeper Read missed the ball.
At the end of the 80th over the players briefly left the field due to the deteriorating light but were then called back almost immediately, as the umpires decided the conditions were sufficiently OK for the second new ball to be sent down by Broad and Siddle.
Only 3 more overs were squeezed in before play was halted for a final time with an hour lost at the end of the day, and no play was possible in the game's fourth, the abandonment confirmed at 3pm after rain persisted throughout Wednesday.