Two talented young players provided further evidence of their prodigious talents on the third day of Nottinghamshire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Essex at Chelmsford.
Tom Moores, injured and batting with a runner, played a sublime innings as Notts piled on the pressure against the defending champions. 23-year old Matt Milnes then struck twice at the start of the run chase, picking up the wickets of Alastair Cook and Varun Chopra.
Moores scored 87 from only 80 balls, smashing seven fours and seven sixes in a brutal assault which included 27 from one Simon Harmer over.
The left-hander monopolised a last wicket partnership of 58 with Harry Gurney, who remained undefeated on nought, as Notts made 266.
Set to score 441 from a minimum of 131 overs, the home county closed on 88 for four, requiring 353 more runs.
Notts resumed on 35 for one at the start of the day, holding an overall advantage of 209 over the defending county champions.
The first three overs of the day were all maidens, so Notts hadn’t added to their lead by the time Milnes fell to the 19th ball of the morning, bowled by Matt Quinn for three.
Samit Patel helped Jake Libby add 48 over the next hour as the lead stretched beyond 250.
The Essex attack were much tighter with their lines than in the first innings and runs had to be earned.
Matt Coles entered the attack from the River End and picked up wickets in consecutive overs to reduce the visitors to 87 for four. Patel nicked behind for 15 and Ross Taylor chopped on for four.
Libby was unbeaten on 49 whilst those two wickets fell but duly reached his third half century of the season from 88 balls.
The opener fell for 51, bowled by a beauty from Neil Wagner, who also claimed the wicket of Riki Wessels for 14.
Billy Root edged Harmer to slip for 28, leaving the innings perched on 143 for seven as Moores made his way to the middle, hobbling after injuring an ankle in the morning warm-ups.
Luke Fletcher showed a great deal of sportsmanship by walking – with the umpire unsighted – when a Moores straight drive was ricocheted onto the stumps by bowler Coles at the non-striker’s end.
Matt Carter made 14 but then the fireworks started as the Essex attack was put to the sword by Moores, batting with Libby as his runner.
His 50 had come from 63 balls and the next 17 deliveries produced a further quickfire 37 as the ball was repeatedly powered to – or over – the ropes.
One six landed on the roof of the press box and one was prevented from going into the nearby river by clattering into a bicycle, parked up on the towpath.
Gurney was often left with either one or two deliveries to face each over and he defended stoically against a visibly tiring fielding unit.
The end came when Moores slashed at Jamie Porter and was caught behind.
When Essex began their second innings Milnes pinned Cook lbw for nought and then castled Chopra, sending the middle stump cartwheeling pout of the ground.
Fletcher bowled Tom Westley for nine, aided by a slight deflection, as home spirits sank, only to be revived by a fourth wicket partnership of 55.
Late in the day Patel took a routine caught and bowled offering from Dan Lawrence, leaving Ravi Bopara unbeaten on 33 at the close.
Wessels had initially taken the gloves during Essex’s second innings but handed them over to Tom Keast, with 20 overs remaining in the day, after the youngster had been summoned from Nottingham.
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