There was a real air of anticipation at Trent bridge fifteen minutes before the start of play. Durham had declared on their overnight score of 332 for 4. It would require Nottinghamshire to score 396 runs at a shade over four an over. It was always going to be a difficult task, and it proved the case as the game ended in a draw with Notts 298 for 5.
Notts top order are known for their shot-making abilities, and an added a feeling of nothing to lose could have kick-started their season. Durham would not have been forgiven for batting on and adding another 50 runs or so. It would have seen Notts need over six an over to win and increase the odds of a draw.
Durham looked to have made the right call when an opening spell of 2 for nine from Chris Rushworth maintained Durham’s advantage. He bowled Haseeb Hammed for a 17 ball duck, moving the ball away from the batsman to dislodge his off stump.
Rushworth was at it again shortly after as he trapped Ben Duckett lbw, bowling from around the wicket and deceiving the left-hander with the angle.
It did not deter Notts, who started to score more freely with the incoming Joe Clarke. Nothing less than expected from Clarke, who had scored 28 from 21 balls when the fifty partnership was reached.
With twenty minutes to go until lunch, the runs started to dry up. When Clarke edged a low catch to David Bedingham at first slip, to give Matt Salisbury his hundredth first-class wicket, Notts had not scored a run off the bat for 38 balls.
Ben Slater and Lyndon James, in only his third first-class game, batted well but without the intensity that Slater and Clarke showed at the start of their 67 run partnership. Durham had found a more consistent line, and Notts were more watchful as the overhead conditions got steadily worse.
With rain, sleet and snow circling the ground, it was only a matter of time before the players would have to depart for an early tea. Slater, perhaps intending to get his century before the heavens opened, tried to hit an expansive shot through mid-wicket and was deceived by the bounce, and Scott Borthwick has his man lbw for 73.
Where Nottinghamshire’s top order had struggled to build solid partnerships, they continued to do so today. Perhaps with the game meandering towards a draw, the pressure was off.
James and Slater had added 71 for the fourth wicket, and along with his captain Steven Mullaney, James contributed to the third fifty-plus partnership.
For a player at the start of his first-class career, James looked assured. The 22-year-old allrounder had a good pre-season, and Notts had faith in their second XI captain to make the step up. He didn’t let them down and never looked the junior batsman in the partnerships he contributed.
James reached his maiden first-class fifty in 106 balls and would finish unbeaten on 79. Mullaney also passed the fifty mark scoring 69 as the pair added 124 for the fifth wicket before having two of his stumps ripped from the ground by Salisbury.
James didn’t get his first century today, but it seems that day will come soon.