Joey Evison and Jake Ball shared six wickets as Nottinghamshire’s season-opener against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge gathered pace on day two.

The duo starred as the home side threatened to take complete control, only for a defiant century from Leus du Ploy to turn the contest once more.

Ball swept aside Derbyshire’s top order in a fine opening spell before du Plooy and Matt Critchley helped the visitors to regroup. After lunch, however, a collapse saw Nottinghamshire regain the initiative.

At 159 for 9, Derbyshire were on the ropes, but Connors played resolutely while du Plooy ruthlessly put away the bad balls.

Du Plooy lofted Ball over long-on to reach his century and later pulled and drove him for two more sixes.

The pair had passed Derbyshire’s previous 10th wicket record against their neighbours of 74 at Ilkeston in 1969, increasing Nottinghamshire’s frustration with every delivery, when du Plooy tried to hit Samit Patel over the top and Evison ran back from mid-off to hold a diving catch.

Under normal circumstances, du Plooy would have walked off to a standing ovation. but the applause of all the Notts players acknowledged the quality of his innings.

They would have expected to be batting again long before tea when first Ball removed Luis Reece, Billy Godleman and Wayne Madsen in four overs from the Radcliffe Road End - and then six wickets fell for 40 runs in the afternoon.

A farcical run out first ball after lunch started the slide with Critchley stranded at his partner’s end. although it needed a smart reaction from Steven Mullaney to break the stumps after a wild throw from midwicket threatened to reprieve the batsman.

Evison had Harvey Hosein and Fynn Hudson-Prentice lbw in quick succession, before Mattie McKiernan was smartly caught at gully. It looked as if du Plooy would be stranded when Tom Barber removed Michael Cohen and Ben Aitchison to claim his maiden first-class wickets.

But Connors stood firm as du Plooy combined orthodox strokes with one-day improvisation to score 69 in 19 overs, and the momentum looked to be remaining with Derbyshire during the early part of the evening session.

Chris Nash and Haseeb Hameed shared a century opening stand on the first day - but when Nash tried to pull the second ball from Connors, he got a bottom-edge into his stumps.

Ben Duckett looked in good touch until he tried to turn Connors off his hip and was caught behind down the leg side - and in the fast bowler’s next over, Joe Clarke was lbw. 

Another wicket may have set Nottinghamshire nerves jangling, but Haseeb Hameed and Mullaney played calmly through the remaining 14 overs.


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