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Spring dawns as Ball sings the sweetest song

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Nottinghamshire 127 for 6 (Bailey 3-17) trail Lancashire 158 (Vilas 49, Ball 5-43) by 31 runs
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With the rain cleared almost everywhere, catch up with how the county championship got underway for most of the two divisions

“I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way, / Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring.” Unlike Percy Shelley, the cricketers had no need of a reverie to transform the seasons on the second day of this game; mere slumber had been enough. And immediately the game began on a bright morning, the players and spectators returned to that shared watchfulness for which some of them had waited six months. As if to mirror their mood, the sun returned by lunchtime, and with a far greater suggestion of permanence than Liam Livingstone’s batsmen managed against Jake Ball in the first two sessions.

Indeed, by the time a rather late tea was taken Lancashire had been bowled out for 158 with Ball hustling the innings to its close by taking four wickets in 14 balls to finish with 5 for 43 in 17 overs. The home supporters, who had congregated in decent numbers for their first day of Championship cricket, looked for a response from their four seamers and they received it thanks largely to Tom Bailey who took three wickets to help leave Nottinghamshire on 127 for 6 at the close. Against all odds, Lancashire can feel they had enjoyed fractionally the better of things.

One of Bailey’s wickets was that of Steven Mullaney who surely thought he was going to end this first day on the field as the more content of the two freshmen captains pitted against each other in this match. The Nottinghamshire skipper rotated his bowlers sensibly while Livingstone’s main contribution was to leave alone a booming inswinger from Luke Wood which duly knocked out his off stump.

By the time that third wicket fell Mullaney’s decision to dispense with the toss had been justified, Ball gaining the benefits from eventually bowling a fuller length when he had a hesitant Haseeb Hameed leg before for seven after 45 minutes play. Harry Gurney then had Jennings caught and bowled off a leading edge for 11 with his third ball and the tone of matters had been set.

Wood’s direction was awry in his first over and Alex Davies collected two boundaries with brutal cuts but the effervescent left-arm seamer then cleaned up Livingstone and another inswinger in the next over had Davies leg before for 23. The blonde-haired Wood’s joyous celebrations after both his wickets were reminiscent of the golden age of glam rock.

Lancashire’s best partnership was shared by the contrasting figures of Dane Vilas and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who put on 64 for the fifth wicket, most of the runs coming in the hour after lunch. Vilas took the lead with some dominant drive and pulls off Ball and Wood while Chanderpaul accumulated 11 runs in 53 balls. The latter’s patience put one in mind of a sculptor but given that he marks his guard by knocking a bail into the crease with his bat-handle, this was not inappropriate.

However, Chanderpaul was caught by Jake Libby at square leg for 11 when attempting a pull off Luke Fletcher and Vilas was bowled through the gate by Harry Gurney when one short of his half-century. Ball then took two wickets in two balls to account for Steven Croft and Tom Bailey and in his next over he had Jordan Clark caught at deep square leg by Wood for 19. The same combination removed Onions without scoring to leave Lancashire needing a fightback from their bowlers in the evening session.

The fine judgement of Nash and Mullaney in a second-wicket stand of 42 suggested this might not be forthcoming but Bailey’s removal of Chris Nash and Ross Taylor, both of them lbw, transformed the day. Joe Mennie’s first two wickets for Lancashire confirmed the change and the patience of home supporters had been justified. For the next five months they will be guests at the table of life.



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