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Nottinghamshire prevail in morning of 12-wicket madness

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Nottinghamshire 222 (Bailey 3-26, Livingstone 3-27, Mennie 3-46) and 10 for 4 (Mennie 3-4) beat Lancashire 158 (Ball 5-43) and 73 (Gurney 6-25, Ball 4-14) by six wickets
Scorecard

It was a morning when batsmen came and went like leaders of UKIP; a morning when the rapidity of events boggled the scrambled mind and outstripped the scribbling pen; a morning when 12 wickets fell in exactly 15 overs, Lancashire losing their last eight for 15 runs. Then Nottinghamshire leaked another four in scoring the mere ten runs they required to give Steven Mullaney a six-wicket victory on his championship debut as skipper.

But when this ridiculous game leaves its marbles in the changing room, it is important to identify a moment of calm brilliance which encapsulates the hurtling sequence of events. In the sixth over of the morning Jake Ball bowled a ball to Steven Croft which pitched somewhere near the line of middle stump before hitting the top of off. The blameless batsman strolled away, perhaps thinking that if a cricketer has been born who can play those, he would like to congratulate his or her parents on their genes.

During the winter Ball was presented with the shortest of straws by England; he was asked to bowl it short when his strength is pitching it up. Today on a wicket which was always softer, colder and damper than it looked, Ball dismissed three more batsmen to finish the innings with 4 for 14 and the match with 9 for 57. Twice in eight balls he was driven to the boundary by Liam Livingstone; undaunted he stuck to his craft, pitched it up again and saw the Lancashire skipper edge a catch to Tom Moores when attempting another booming drive.

But by the time Lancashire’s new captain was dismissed, the good ship Red Rose was already capsizing. It had been holed as early as the third ball of the morning when Keaton Jennings played a milksop of a leg-side push to a straight ball from Harry Gurney. Umpire Graham Lloyd did not have to think too long about the leg before. Next over Shivnarine Chanderpaul, a man who is well used to batting across geological eras, could not get over a ball from the excellent Gurney and was taken at slip by Ross Taylor.

Then Livingstone departed; then Croft. 66 for 6. There was much harrumphing and a modicum of hoping in the Old Trafford pavilion but the lower order could do nothing to halt the slide. Nottinghamshire’s slip catching was outstanding, as Jordan Clark and Dane Vilas discovered, when Chris Nash and Riki Wessels scooped up chances. Gurney finished with a career-best 6 for 25 in the innings and 8 for 43 in the match. Eight batsmen had been dismissed in ten overs this morning and Lancashire had lost all ten second-innings wickets for 24 runs.

“Extraordinary is probably the right word for it,” agreed the Nottinghamshire coach Peter Moores. “It was an outstanding hour of cricket by us. The quality of the bowling and catching was absolutely fantastic. Harry Gurney bowled brilliantly all game and Jake Ball did what Jake Ball can do. If he wanted to make a statement in the first game of the county championship season then he’s done it.”

But still we were not done with madness. Presented with an opportunity to lead his side home in sober fashion, Mullaney hooked the seventh ball of the innings to Graham Onions at long leg. Two overs later, Joe Mennie struck again when Nash was hustled for pace and Haseeb Hameed scampered back from slip to take a brilliant diving snare some forty yards from the stumps. More conventional efforts by Livingstone removed Jake Libby and Taylor. Some folk jested that ten runs might be too stiff a target. As it turns out it is the lowest total ever successfully chased when losing four wickets. But you knew that anyway.

The game ended when Riki Wessels nudged a single backward of square on the leg side. It was almost the only mundane moment of the day. The two sides lined up to shake hands; it is cricket’s answer to line-dancing. One thought of the two skippers trying to cope with the aftermath of mayhem. There is an enormous difference between the idea of doing a thing and actually doing it. The former is a diverting notion whereas the latter is often hard work. When invited to captain their respective counties Livingstone and Mullaney were no doubt attracted by the prospects. They have now discovered what leadership is like when Dame Cricket takes a hand. They had better get used to the glorious madhouse.



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Surrey dominate as green Trent Bridge pitch backfires

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Surrey 223 for 1 (Burns 97*, Stoneman 93) lead Nottinghamshire 210 (Morkel 4-60) by 13 runs
Scorecard

Your front lawn may be the colour of straw but the well-watered cricket fields of England remain a luxuriant green, even down to the pitch for the clash of first and second in the Championship.

It was perhaps not what you would expect to see in the third week of July in a summer as scorching as this one but from Nottinghamshire’s standpoint there was logic behind their instructions to the groundsman. No team had accrued more bowling points in the first eight matches of the season and with Stuart Broad and Jake Ball available it was clear where they considered their best chance of winning lay.

There were two or three flies in the ointment, however; bluebottle-sized ones, in fact. First of all, Steve Birks’s verdant strip is as close to the boundary on the Bridgford Road side of the ground as any of Trent Bridge’s Championship pitches, so close that a judiciously placed nudge brings four.

Second, this Surrey side contains the two most prolific batsmen in the top division so far in Rory Burns and Ollie Pope.

And third, with the kind of early cloud cover that has not been seen for several weeks, there was never much likelihood that Surrey would not bowl first, which meant that a Nottinghamshire batting line-up short on experience would be exposed to Jade Dernbach, Sam Curran, Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke in the most testing atmospheric conditions, while Broad, back in action after recovering from a sore ankle, could only preen his new haircut in the dressing room. As calculated risks go, this one seemed to have a decent chance of backfiring spectacularly.

And so it did. Steven Mullaney, the Nottinghamshire captain, was out to the second ball of the day, edging Dernbach into the wicketkeeper’s gloves, and even a solitary batting point would have eluded his side but for an unlikely partnership for the 10th wicket that saw Jake Ball smash Morkel over cover for six and Harry Gurney, a number eleven in cricket’s best traditions, carve out an inventive unbeaten 29, the second biggest score of his career.

Surrey had 42 overs to negotiate themselves but by the time they began the clouds were clearing and the menace the Surrey quartet had been able to generate eluded Broad and company. The excellent Burns, now past 850 runs for the season, needs three more for a third century. Mark Stoneman, at last looking more like the player who scored almost 1,500 runs last summer, emerged from his troubles with a fine 86, taking him past 10,000 in his career. Unless something very different happens on day two, Surrey can already anticipate a handsome lead.

The first five Nottinghamshire wickets fell before lunch, the other five before tea as the ball jagged around. At times it was a struggle even to lay bat on ball, let alone take advantage of the short route to the fence. Of the first six wickets, three were caught at gully, one at slip and one by the wicketkeeper; the other was to an inswinger from Curran that trapped Samit Patel on the back foot.

Surrey’s catching, for the most part, was outstanding. Rikki Clarke, apart from bowling superbly, took one over his head at slip that required an exceptional leap even for a man of his 6ft 4ins; Ryan Patel, on briefly as substitute fielder at gully with Pope needing attention after catching Will Fraine a couple of balls earlier, held a blinder, diving to his right, to dismiss Jake Libby, as Morkel claimed two of his four wickets in three deliveries. Fraine, the former Durham MCCU batsman, acquitted himself pretty well in the circumstances, thrown in for his Championship debut with Chris Nash still sidelined and Ross Taylor’s stint here finished.

Some 22 points separated these sides at the start of play. Right now the gap feels wider than that and Surrey might well be about to put themselves out of reach.



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Sussex plot haphazard route to promotion-chasing victory

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Sussex 327 (Wells 71, Hogan 4-39, Lawlor 3-59) vs Glamorgan
Scorecard

Sussex, attempting to boost their promotion ambitions with a third straight win against bottom of the table Glamorgan, needed a spirited last wicket partnership between Jofra Archer and Danny Briggs to gain the upper hand on the opening day of their day-night Specsavers County Championship Division Two fixture at Hove.

Sussex had the better of the opening session but the Glamorgan bowlers proved tenacious and took five wickets in a 20-over spell, assisted by a pink ball that swung after lunch. Sussex, however, have a Manx cat’s tail and the partnership of 61 between Archer (19) and Briggs (46) saw them to a third batting point for passing 300.

Openers Luke Wells and Phil Salt built a decent foundation to the innings, with an opening stand of 73. Salt was in particularly impressive form, striking eight fours in his 52-ball 48 before he was dismissed by a fine delivery from Michael Hogan, which straightened and lifted to have him caught behind in the 19th over.

Sussex were still well set at 114 for 1 at lunch. But they lost Tom Haines to the first delivery after the interval and the Glamorgan bowlers remained on top for the rest of the session. Haines, playing his first championship game since scoring a century on debut against Durham at Arundel last month, came into the side for the rested Luke Wright. But, attempting to work the ball to leg, he edged Lukas Carey to Nick Selman at second slip.

Wells, who had been more sedate than his opening partner, leg-glanced Michael Hogan to reach his fifty from 100 deliveries. But Sussex lost third wicket at 139 when the in-form Harry Finch, driving without any foot movement, was caught behind off Hogan. Finch’s solitary run occupied 32 balls. And one run later Wells hooked Hogan to long-leg for 71 from 142 balls.

Michael Burgess was dropped first ball at third slip but Glamorgan were not made to pay for their aberration. The batsman was caught behind having a swing at a wide delivery from Jeremy Lawlor for 13 – the first of three wickets for Lawlor as he acieved a career-best. And it became 171 for 6 when David Wiese swung wildly to give the busy keeper Chris Cooke another catch.

Ben Brown and Chris Jordan revived the faltering innings with a seventh wicket stand of 83 in 24 overs. Both batsmen failed to reach deserved half-centuries. Brown (49) was caught behind attempting to cut a ball that was too pitched up for the stroke, and in the next over Jordan (46) was bowled by Hogan.

Sussex were 254 for 8 and Glamorgan were on top once more, even more so when Ollie Robinson was caught at second slip at 266 in the first over with the new ball.

But in Briggs Sussex have a first-class century maker batting at No 11 and he and Archer hit merrily under the floodlights until Briggs fell in the last over of the day.



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Clark’s historic hat-trick just a detail in hectic Roses opener

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Yorkshire 192 (Lyth 70, Clark 5-58) lead109 (Davies 51, Coad 3-28) by 83 runs
Scorecard

It is doubtful if many of those attending the 272nd first-class Roses match arrived at Emirates Old Trafford talking of the contribution Jordan Clark might make to the match. It is unlikely if by mid-afternoon anyone was discussing anything else.

Yet by the end of the day even Clark’s hat-trick and his career-best figures were becoming vague memories of a mad Sunday on which both sides had been bowled out, supporters of each team had called for everyone to resign and Lancashire’s captain, Liam Livingstone, had broken his thumb. Yorkshire ended the day comfortably in the ascendant, as they so often do in Roses matches, but the means of their ascent made the Hinterstoisser traverse look facile.

For on a day which began in the thick-furred gloom of a Mancunian morning yet ended in the crystal sunlight of this treasured summer Clark became only the second Lancashire bowler to take a hat-trick in this fixture since the County Championship was properly constituted in 1890. And when he bowled Ben Coad for 15 to end Yorkshire’s innings for what seemed a plainly inadequate 192, Clark had taken 5 for 58, his finest figures for Lancashire.

The quality of Clark’s hat-trick victims was even more bewitching than the feat itself. Those who had hoped to see Joe Root make runs had to be content with five fluent boundaries before the England captain pushed half forward to Clark and was leg before. Enter Kane Williamson, who was caught helplessly on the crease by Clark’s first delivery to him. Exit Williamson and enter Jonny Bairstow, whose nervous prod edged a catch to Jos Buttler at third slip. Yorkshire 59 for 4.

Having dismissed the batsmen ranked second, third and 16th in the world, Clark indulged in an aeroplane impersonation and sprinted towards The Point, caught in the exultation of the moment. He was followed by his team-mates and the game was reduced to a Benny Hill sketch. The black comedy awaited us.

In the pavilion most of the former players attending their Lancashire reunion watched these events happily and one hopes they showed Clark’s celebrations appropriate indulgence. After all, none of them could talk about their hat-tricks in Roses matches. The only man to share Clark’s honour was Ken Higgs, who passed away in 2016, although one could argue that playing for Lancashire and taking a Roses hat trick are two of the few things the pair have in common.

Clark looks like an athlete whereas Higgs, as his obituary in Wisden obituary pointed out, had “an arse which crossed two postcodes”. Clark has a straight run-up whereas Higgs had a curving approach and rumbled to the wicket like an irate landlord in hot pursuit of a chiseler. Clark’s diet is strictly controlled and probably owes much to energy supplements and isotonic refuelling. Higgs more or less lived on fish and chips.

But both men know, or knew, how to compel the shot and move the ball late, albeit that Higgs’s virtues earned him 1536 first-class wickets whereas Clark has so far picked up 75. And neither man had to be born in Lancashire in order to pledge their loyalty. Clark is a Cumbrian; Higgs was born in Staffordshire. They also serve who hail from Whitehaven or Kidsgrove.

So great was Clark’s apparent dominance of this day – he also ran out Tim Bresnan for nought when he got a hand to a fierce straight-drive by Adam Lyth – that it was sometimes difficult to understand that other cricketers were playing well too. Old Trafford may not be Lyth’s favourite ground; indeed, expressing such an opinion may be something of a heresy in Yorkshire. But it is one on which he has scored a lot of runs and the opener’s fluent 70 was vital in ensuring his side posted what became an eminently defendable total. When Bresnan was out, Yorkshire were 86 for 6 but Lyth helped Steve Patterson put on 45 before both fell to slip catches by Keaton Jennings, Lyth being James Anderson’s only victim.

But what had appeared to be a bottomless Harrod’s hamper of a day for Lancashire rapidly became a soggy packed lunch. The most serious long-term blow was struck when Liam Livingstone fractured his left thumb when attempting to take a slip catch off Lyth. He is likely to be out of action for some time.

Perhaps in solidarity with their captain, Lancashire’s batsmen then inflicted some blows on themselves and they should be fatal for their chances in this game. Yorkshire’s four seamers bowled superbly, no one better than Ben Coad, who took three wickets in an over as the home side lost four wickets for no runs in eight balls.

By then, though, Haseeb Hameed had been dismissed for the fourth successive innings when playing no shot, a dismissal followed two balls later by Dane Vilas’s departure, leg before on the back leg to Patterson. Alex Davies made 51 and put on 46 for the first wicket with Keaton Jennings, who was brilliantly caught one handed by Root at short midwicket off Bresnan. Jennings was blameless but many other Lancashire batsmen were deeply culpable. God knows what the former players thought of it but one doubts it harmed bar takings.



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