Nottinghamshire lost late wickets as the Specsavers County Championship season eventually got underway, after rain had washed out the opening day of their fixture against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.

With play not finishing until 7.30pm, Notts closed on 127 for six, still 31 runs adrift of the home county, who had been bowled out for 158 earlier.

Jake Ball took the bowling plaudits for Notts, repeating his heroics from two years ago, with another outstanding performance with the ball.

In 2016 he took six Lancashire wickets in the corresponding match and he returned to the same venue to help skittle out the hosts inside two sessions.

Ball closed with figures of five for 43 from 17 overs as Lancashire were bowled out in only 61 overs, with Dane Vilas making 49.

Other wicket-takers for the visitors were Harry Gurney (2-18), Luke Wood (2-43) and Luke Fletcher (1-23),
Notts were handily poised to post a healthy response, before a passage of play that saw them slip from 75-2 to 112-6.

Spectators and players alike were able to put behind them the misery and disappointment of the lost first day, with morning warm-ups underway on time.

Steven Mullaney, skippering Notts for the fifth time in the Championship but for the first as club captain, made an immediate decision, “No toss, we’ll have a bowl.”

Omitted from the squad of 13 were a batsman and a bowler, Billy Root and Mark Footitt respectively, with county debuts for Chris Nash and Ross Taylor.

Tom Moores, who enjoyed a brief loan spell with Lancs in 2016, took the gloves for the first time for Notts.

The home side opened with two recent England Test players in Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed and the opening passage of play was tense with Ball and Fletcher each sending down three maidens before the first runs came from the bat.

Neither opener could break the shackles and it was no surprise when the pressure eventually brought a wicket with Ball trapping Hameed (7) lbw in the 11th over.

Only 26 runs were scored in the opening hour of the contest and as morning turned into afternoon that pressure produced greater dividends.

Gurney, with just his third delivery after replacing Ball at the Pavilion End, squared Jennings (11) up and gratefully gobbled up a routine return catch off a leading edge.

Wood’s first two deliveries were crashed to the offside boundary by Alex Davies, Lancashire’s exciting young wicketkeeper-batsman.

Revenge was swiftly executed. Liam Livingstone (9), captaining Lancashire for the first time, shouldered arms to the left-armer and had his off peg sent cartwheeling. Davies (23) was then struck in the crease and Wood had his second wicket in the space of seven balls.

From 77 for four at lunch, the hosts went on the front foot at the start of the second session as Vilas and Shivnarine Chanderpaul mounted a recovery.

Vilas looked to play aggressively from the off and led the way during a stand of 64, brought up in just over an hour.

Chanderpaul (11) played the perfect foil before being undone by a short delivery from Fletcher, which he pulled to Jake Libby at square leg.

Gurney prevented Vilas from reaching his half-century, bowling the South African from around the wicket. The last four dismissals were all captured by Ball, as Lancs slipped from 131-5 to 158 all out.

Steven Croft (6) mistimed a pull and the ball looped up to Riki Wessels at first slip, Tom Bailey was caught behind first ball for nought, Jordan Clark (19) pulled into the hands of Wood on the fence and Graham Onions (0) was sharply taken by Libby at short leg.

Nottinghamshire’s innings began after tea and both Mullaney and Libby were understandably watchful before an unfortunate legside dismissal broke their partnership on 20.

Libby (15) flicked at an Onions delivery and was athletically taken by the diving Davies. Nash joined his captain in a second wicket stand of 42 but then the home county kept themselves in the contest with some decisive blows late into the evening session.

Mullaney (24) was caught behind off Bailey, who followed up with the scalps of Nash (24) and Taylor (9), both lbw.

At around 7.15pm Samit Patel (28) unluckily played on, from the bowling of Mennie, who then had Fletcher (2) caught behind for the 16th wicket of the day.

Wessels (18 not out) and Moores (0 not out) will resume together on the third morning, with Nottinghamshire trailing by 31 runs.


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