Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, day three:
Nottinghamshire 472 (Slater 142, Duckett 116), Lancashire 129-6
After the rains, came the deluge.
A Sunday of drizzle and dull skies didn’t dry up Nottinghamshire’s drive to post a formidable first-innings total.
Instead, runs flowed from the bats of Messrs Clarke and Slater, and Mullaney and Moores, as the Green and Golds racked up 472 from their 120 overs.
And the scoreboard pressure caused a cascade of Lancashire wickets in the final session, setting up the most unexpected of grandstand finishes for the final day.
It capped a day on which to see the Nottinghamshire engine room delight in the joy of run-scoring – the simple, primal thrill of feeling bat on ball – was to remind those looking on of why they fell in love with the game in the first place.
If one shot could possibly encapsulate an entire batting performance, it came from the blade of Matthew Carter.
Having already hit the game’s first six, Carter aimed another languid swing skywards just six balls later.
The ball sailed over midwicket. The cameraman in the Yu Energy Stand held his hand aloft, signalling that it had easily cleared his vantage point. A groundsman was dispatched to vault a perimeter fence in pursuit.
Whether the ball was stopped on its merry trek down Hound Road, or whether it joins the escapee penguin in Strelley village as one of Nottinghamshire’s most recent mysteries, is unclear.
What was certain is that Carter had delivered the most remarkable shot on a day of wildly contrasting styles.
At stumps on day one, Ben Duckett spoke of each member of the Trent Bridge dressing room trusting their own method.
While Duckett watched on from the seats atop the Pavilion, his teammates bore out the variety of styles in their ranks.
Slater was subtle as Clarke caressed, Moores motored as Mullaney marched – the latter making a second half-century of the season as the innings came to a close.
It was the second fifty of the day for the ‘visitors’, after Clarke reached the milestone soon after lunch.
The former Worcestershire batsman may only have been with Nottinghamshire for little over a year, but the grace and elegance with which he scores is already becoming familiar.
And so it was once again, the right-hander flicking flawlessly off his pads throughout an 87-run stand with Slater.
For his part, Slater simply continued his innings in exactly the same manner as he had played sometime in the distant past, the last time play was possible in this fixture.
The opener looked unhurried in making 142 before falling to Tom Bailey.
Mullaney was the new man, helping Clarke to compile 30 for the fourth wicket – but it was alongside Moores that his innings caught fire.
The young wicketkeeper was scoring briskly enough, notching 18 from 27 balls as Notts pushed for maximum batting points.
But Mullaney was the true aggressor, at first using the bottom hand to bludgeon through midwicket before becoming ever more creative.
Scythes through point, heaves over cover – even the occasional dab and dil-scoop were employed as the skipper toyed with the Lancashire attack.
And after Moores was removed, Carter provided the captain with one final willing partner - but the end of Notts' innings did not bring the curtain down on the drama.
First, Zak Chappell added Keaton Jennings’ name to a growing list of Test-quality scalps, before he produced an athletic take off his own bowling to account for Josh Bohannon, and drew the faintest edge from Dane Vilas courtsey of an impeccable slice of line-and-length bowling.
The paceman's triptych was ably supported by a fine Peter Trego delivery to remove Alex Davies, the all-rounder also bringing a premature end to George Balderson's innings.
The icing, meanwhile, was provided by a comprehensive castling of Liam Livingstone from Mullaney.
The joy of seeing a slip cordon rise in unison, a pair of bails spiralling through the sky, a batsman making hay in the summer sunshine, can never be denied. All three came Nottinghamshire's way on day three.
Whatever the result of this game, after such a disrupted season, it was a timely reminder of the succour of simple pleasures.
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