Durham were made to work for every run on the first day of the LV=Insurance County Championship at Trent Bridge, as they finished the days play 241 for 7. Nottinghamshire did the hospitable thing when they won the toss this morning. It didn’t take Steven Mullaney too long to make the decision, and it paid off immediately as Jake ball instantly found his line and length.
The conditions were perfect for Notts “homegrown” bowling attack, overcast for much of the day; it wasn’t going to be easy for new batsmen. Ball was into his third over when he found the edge of Michael Jones bat, and a relieved Haseeb Hameed grabbed the catch at the second attempt.
On his return to the Durham side from his spell at Surrey, Scott Borthwick only lasted four balls to become the second Durham batsman to fail to score. The wasn’t an element of doubt for Ball as Borthwick was plumb in front.
It could have been the type of day where Notts with Brett Hutton and Luke Fletcher tore easily through a side that struggled with the bat last season.
It fell to Alex Lees, obdurate, watchful and determined to stay until the bitter end and the more free-flowing David Bedingham to mount a recovery.
Both made contrasting half-centuries as they looked to rebuild. They took the score to 93 for two and looked to bat well into the afternoon session. Luke Fletcher bowled the last over the morning session, found the edge, and Bedingham trudged off to a disappointing lunch.
It was a shame as the Durham batsman looked in good touch and drove down the ground on more than one occasion. His fifty included 11 fours.
Lees was by now the main hope of the Durham innings. Jack Burnham joined Lees, and again Durham started to make progress; 51 was added for the fourth wicket.
Lyndon James was fresh, a tall allrounder who at 22-years-old is all arms and legs, with the spinner Liam Patterson-White bowling at the other end; this is where Durham should have cashed in. They might have done so had Lees not been run out by an excellent throw from Joe Clarke, which caught the opener off guard and out of his ground. Lees had to depart for patient 58 from146 balls.
It was also a day for acrobatics from Tom Moores behind the stumps. Burnham was caught down the legside to a delivery that always looked to be moving away from him for 42.
Durham lost two more wickets quickly and, with the new ball looming, it could have been much worse. Brydon Carse and Ben Raine are no mugs with the bat and, against the new ball, moved comfortably into double figures and together added 45 for the eighth wicket.
For Nottinghamshire, it was a good day’s work, professional and unrelenting. They gave Durham little to work with; the bowlers very rarely lost their line and length. Fletcher may have been the exception early in his spell.
If Durham can sneak another 50 runs tomorrow, they won’t feel totally out of the game and, with a few early wickets, could unsettle a Notts side that has forgotten how to win in this format.