Nottinghamshire dig in for draw in opener

Ben Slater of NottinghamshireBen Slater of Nottinghamshire
Ben Slater of Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire found the required resilience to pick up the significantly enhanced eight-point reward for a draw in their opening LV=Insurance County Championship match after visitors Durham had given their bowlers the whole of the final day to claim 10 wickets and a first victory at Trent Bridge in the competition since 2013.

Nottinghamshire’s Ben Slater, who made 73, said: “The result shows that we can fight and bat for the draw, in the same way that we fought with the ball after losing Jake Ball and Brett Hutton from the attack.

“The target in the first session was just to get past the new ball and then take as much time out of the game as I could, but at the same time staying positive.

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“For Lyndon to bat how he has in his third or fourth game it was almost as though he had played 50 or 60 games. It just shows what a head he has got on young shoulders.”

Without a win in the Championship in 26 matches before this one, Nottinghamshire had suffered 17 defeats in that period, a record that made Durham favourites to take the last-day honours in this match, especially after bowling out their hosts in 74.1 overs in the first innings.

Two quick wickets for Chris Rushworth gave Durham the start they wanted but they could take only three more after opener Slater had led the way in stifling their ambitions, standing firm for 48 overs for his 73.

With rookie all-rounder Lyndon James showing he has backbone as well as potential, turning a maiden fifty into a fine unbeaten 79 in only his third first-class match and sharing a 124-run partnership with skipper Steven Mullaney, Nottinghamshire were never in serious danger, the teams touching fists (handshakes being outlawed) on a draw with eight and a half overs remaining of the schedule.

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Durham’s overnight declaration at 332-4, following the county record fifth-wicket partnership between centurions David Bedingham and Ned Eckersley, challenged Nottinghamshire to score 396 to win, a fourth-innings total surpassed only twice in the history of first-class cricket at Trent Bridge, both times in the 1920s.

Rushworth soon made that unlikely prospect even more remote, producing a beauty to bowl Haseeb Hameed for a duck and following up by dismissing Ben Duckett leg before to leave them 21 for two.

But Slater and Joe Clarke added 67 for the third wicket and though Durham celebrated enthusiastically after Clarke, who had looked in good order in making 38, nicked to slip in the last over before lunch but it took them another 20 overs to make another breakthrough as 22-year-old James provided admirably durable support for Slater’s cause.

Indeed, James survived his senior partner, who was the next out, leg before as swivelled to pull Scott Borthwick’s leg spin.

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After a sleet shower had forced the players off for an early tea, taking four overs out of the schedule, James reached his half-century from 106 balls with six fours.

Nottinghamshire were able to score much more quickly and as Mullaney pulled Matt Salisbury for his third six a Nottinghamshire was not entirely out of the question.

That possibility promptly disappeared as the next ball took Mullaney’s off and middle stumps out of the ground and after the new ball brought no further breakthroughs - and with their earlier worries about slow over-rate allayed by the umpires - Durham agreed that the spoils be shared.

Durham captain Scott Borthwick said: “We felt this was a game we could win and the result was a tough one to take for us.

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“The partnership between David Bedingham and Ned Eckersley on day three put us in a really good position and while we knew we had to graft today we did create chances and there was a lot of playing and missing.

“But we needed those half-chances to stick for us before the pitch flattened out and it got a bit easier to bat on.

“We felt we’ve played all the cricket, the better cricket in this game and yet we have come away with the same points as Nottinghamshire, but there were a lot more positives than negatives from the performance.”