Steven Mullaney recorded the fastest County Championship century by a Nottinghamshire player on a pulsating day at Lord’s, where the Green and Golds drove home their ascendency with three wickets in the evening session; the hosts left needing 447 to win on the final day. 

Mullaney’s unbeaten hundred came from 56 balls, and was also the second fastest First-Class century at Lord’s, with Mark Ealham’s 45-ball ton for Notts coming at the Home of Cricket against the MCC in 2006. 

The display of pyrotechnics came as Notts surged towards declaration in the afternoon session after Luke Fletcher made fifty opening the batting as a nightwatchman, having amassed a half-century at number 11 in the first innings - a feat never before achieved.

He returned Notts’ opening two wickets after tea, too, with James Pattinson responsible for the Green and Golds’ third dismissal as Middlesex finished on 69/3. 

Resuming overnight 6/0, Fletcher watched on as Haseeb Hameed departed in the sixth over of the day for five, smartly caught by Sam Robson at second slip as the 25-year-old attempted a drive through the covers. 

It was left to his usual opening partner, Ben Slater, and Fletcher to set the platform for the Green and Golds. 

And the pair proved patient - Slater faced 27 balls before he got off the mark - as they saw off the remaining overs from opening pair Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh, the latter banished by Fletcher with a clip off the pads for six.

Given his swashbuckling approach on day two, those present could be forgiven for thinking they would be treated to more fireworks, but his second fifty of the game was measured, taking 69 balls, brought up with a bottom edge to the third man boundary; his seventh four of the innings.

There was, however, a remarkable parallel in the timing of his dismissal, pinned lbw by Martin Andersson two balls after achieving his fifty, as had been the case when he was caught behind in the first innings. 

Fletcher’s departure marked the arrival of Ben Duckett, who only had to wait one over before the arrival of leg-spinner Luke Hollman. 

Slater was content to give Duckett the strike as he swept, switch-hit, and scooped the right armer, targeting the short boundary to his off side. 

It proved his demise, though, when on 23 he top edged a switch hit to Peter Handscombe on the point boundary, before Slater, caught and bowled for 25, and Lyndon James, bowled chopping on for 16, brought Hollman his second and third wickets.

If Mullaney’s start was considered (four off 10), his next spell was in stark contrast. 

The right-hander blasted three sixes in four balls off Murtagh and Hollman as he sought to catch up with a free-scoring Joe Clarke. 

He did so with ease. 

After watching his number four bring up his half-century, the Notts skipper reached his own off 32 balls, with a top edge to fine third man - Notts well positioned 356 ahead, with just under half the day’s play remaining. 

His guard outside off-stump rendered the Grandstand an easy target as he marched on towards three figures. 

Indeed it took him just 23 balls score his second fifty, with a pulled six over square leg bringing up his 100 partnership with Clarke; a sizeable straight six off Hollman proving particularly popular with the visitors’ balcony; and a clipped full toss off Ethan Bamber for his eighth maximum getting him to his century. 

An almost immediate declaration followed, with Clarke finishing unbeaten on 66 off 92 balls. 

After tea, with just the second ball of Middlesex’s innings, Fletcher made his mark on the game once again. 

An edge from Mark Stoneman was caught at chest height by James at third slip, and it got better for the Green and Golds in the third over when Josh De Caires left alone a delivery from Bulwell-born bowler which nipped down the hill and unsettled the right-hander’s off stump with no score yet added. 

Robson and Handscombe set about the task of restoring stability for the hosts, who still had 32 overs to bat in the day, and they did so with some success, nullifying an economical opening spell from Stuart Broad. 

The Middlesex captain was forced to depart at the hands of his Victoria teammate for the second time in the game before close, however, his 46-ball vigil returned seven runs, allowing Max Holden to see out the remaining overs alongside Robson, who finished unbeaten on 51.