Stuart Broad and James Pattinson represent as formidable an opening attack as has taken the field at Grace Road for some little time, and Nottinghamshire’s international pairing duly prospered as the visitors ended the first day of their opening county championship match of the season in a strong position against Leicestershire.
The fact early morning sunshine had been replaced by heavy grey cloud made Notts’ skipper Chris Read’s decision to exercise the away team’s right to bowl first an easy one, and Broad made an immediate breakthrough, though good fortune was a factor as Paul Horton tried to leave his sixth delivery only for the ball to clip the inside edge and cannon on to leg stump.
Pattinson, making his championship debut, then produced a quick delivery to trap Colin Ackermann leg before, the ball seaming back just enough to beat the South African’s defensive push, and former Leicestershire left-armer Harry Gurney pressed home the advantage. Teenage opener Harry Dearden had batted solidly in going to 12, but fenced at a delivery just outside off stump to edge a catch behind.
Gurney picked up his second wicket when a in-swinger knocked Mark Pettini’s off-stump out of the ground, and though Lewis Hill looked in good touch, hitting five boundaries in racing to 24, Pattinson’s return saw him steer a short, wide delivery in the over before lunch straight to point. Leicestershire captain Mark Cosgrove, watching on 40 not out, was not impressed.
The clouds were beginning to clear when Ned Eckersley was beaten for pace and leg before to Broad. Cosgrove brought up his 50, including nine fours, off 70 balls, but soon afterwards drove at a Broad delivery and edged a catch behind to Chris Read. Read’s 1,0000th first class catch was a suitably outstanding effort, picked up low and tumbling to his left.
Zak Chappell batted well to reach 30 before edging to second slip, but Ben Raine was joined by Clint McKay, and with conditions improving with every passing hour, the ninth wicket pair dug in, compiling a partnership of 81 for the ninth wicket.
Had Ackermann not dropped Michael Lumb at second slip off Chappell on 0, shortly after the promising Chappell had dismissed Greg Smith, Leicestershire would have finished the day with their tails up. As it was, for all the Foxes’ tail wagged, Notts batsmen will relish the prospect of building a big first innings score on what looks a very good track.