Report: Nottinghamshire v Warwickshire, County Championship
Joe Clarke turned his first red-ball century for 21 months into a maiden double-hundred as Nottinghamshire denied Warwickshire victory in an LV= Insurance County Championship match that the visitors had dominated for the first three days.
Thanks to Clarke’s marathon unbeaten 229, spanning eight hours and 38 minutes, Nottinghamshire clawed back a deficit of 416 on first innings after following on.
The Bears move above Hampshire and Essex to go second in the Division One table with the 12 points they take from the draw but have ground to make up on defending champions Surrey, whose extraordinary win over Kent at Canterbury gives them a 32-point lead, albeit from seven matches to Warwickshire’s six.
Clarke was dropped at slip on 128 in the morning session – a difficult chance though one that needed to be taken on a slow, flat track where opportunities for the bowlers were in short supply. There were not many errors otherwise from the former England Lions player, who hit 35 fours and a six from 365 balls faced.
Chris Rushworth led the Warwickshire attack manfully, taking three for 73, with Hasan Ali two for 68 but the resolution shown by Nottinghamshire’s lower–order batters in occupying the crease in support of Clarke was crucial.
Clarke, whose 12 first-class hundreds in his first three seasons at Worcestershire earmarked him as a future star, has struggled for consistency since moving to Trent Bridge. He posted three centuries in his first season in 2019 but only three more in 55 innings since then but there was no doubting his quality on this occasion.
Having resumed with a deficit of 149 and the second new ball available two overs into the final morning, Nottinghamshire knew that if they could emerge from the opening session without sustaining too much damage, their chances of seeing out a draw would rise appreciably.
With the help of that one important slice of luck for Clarke, they achieved their objective, reaching lunch with just one casualty and Warwickshire’s advantage down to 75. The one man out was Steven Mullaney, the Nottinghamshire skipper, who was bowled offering no shot as Rushworth, the country’s leading wicket-taker, found rare deviation off the pitch in the 10th over with the new ball, which zipped back to hit off stump.
The fifth-wicket stand had matched the fourth in adding exactly 100 runs, Mullaney having batted for more than two hours for his 48 runs.
The Clarke let-off came three overs later, the batter slashing at one outside off stump from Will Rhodes in a moment of vulnerability out of character with the rest of his innings. To be fair to Rob Yates, who missed the chance at slip, the ball came off the edge at head height with enough momentum to reach the boundary even after passing through his hands to his right. Nonetheless, Nottinghamshire would have been six down for 292 had it stuck, so it felt like a big moment.
Unruffled, Clarke took two off the next ball to go past his previous best for Nottinghamshire (133), before restoring his equilibrium with another classically executed straight drive for four. He swept Danny Briggs for the first six of his innings and was on 166 from 341 for five at lunch. Warwickshire, having come up with a game plan overnight to take the six remaining wickets in two sessions, were already significantly behind schedule.
Rushworth made things happen again after the interval, bowling Tom Moores with a ball that perhaps kept a tad low. At 361 for six, the home side were still 55 behind, with Warwickshire now sensing an opportunity.
But Clarke found another resolute partner in Calvin Harrison, who was playing in only his second Championship match yet was unfazed even as Warwickshire at times brought every fielder close in.
It was with thanks to Harrison keeping his nerve as solidly as Moores and Mullaney before him that Clarke was able to bide his time, sweeping his 318th ball faced to the boundary off Danny Briggs to go to 203, a moment that saw sustained applause from the home team balcony but at first a mere tap of the gloves between the seventh-wicket pair before Clarke, determined to see the job through to the end, briefly raised his bat in acknowledgement of spectators.
Nottinghamshire moved into the lead for the first time in the match shortly afterwards and were 20 in front at tea with 36 overs to play, still time for Warwickshire to seal a win if they could break the seventh-wicket partnership soon afterwards.
Yet another important chance was missed, with the lead just 40 and 30 overs remaining, when Harrison, on 33, miscued a pull against Rushworth but was dropped on the long leg boundary by Olly Hannon-Dalby, and it was enough for Warwickshire skipper Will Rhodes to offer his handshake on a draw at 5pm, Harrison finishing on 38 not out having helped add 103 runs in two hours and 19 minutes at the crease.
Warwickshire First Team Coach Mark Robinson said: “We are disappointed, because we bossed the game really. We threw everything at them on a wicket that from lunchtime on day three onwards was flat and getting slower and slower.
“But Joe Clarke was magnificent. He came through some great spells from Chris Rushworth and Hasan Ali yesterday by showing a lot of character, so I take my hat off to him, he is a fine player.
“I’m proud of the way we have played over the four days. We set the game up brilliantly but just couldn’t get over the line but that’s cricket. We needed to get Clarke out really because then we would have been into the bowlers with still time in the game to get a result.
“In these sorts of conditions and situations you need to take every half chance when it comes. We had to have the slips in really close because there were a number of edges that didn’t carry, and then Joe Clarke has a slash at one that bursts through Yates’s hands, one of the safest pairs of hands in the country. And on that kind of surface you can’t afford to give people any second chances.
“But we can have no regrets because we have committed to the game, we’ve thrown everything at them but the wicket and Joe have beaten us.
“In terms of the title race, there is a long way to go and a lot can happen but in a fixture list where there is an imbalance and you don’t play everyone twice we have to play Surrey again and we probably have to win that game.”
Warwickshire remain favourites to complete a fourth win of their LV= Insurance County Championship season, and stay in contention for the Division One title, despite Joe Clarke posting his first century in first-class cricket since September 2021.
Nottinghamshire were following on after being bowled out for just 155 in reply to Warwickshire’s 571 for nine declared but despite Clarke’s impressive performance they remain 149 runs behind at the close of the third day at 267 for four and a second new ball available to the visiting bowlers after just two more overs.
Clarke finished unbeaten on 119 from 178 balls, having batted for almost four hours, picking up 22 boundaries. Skipper Steven Mullaney is not out on 37 in an unbroken fifth-wicket stand worth 81 yet even with the pitch flattening out, Warwickshire will be disappointed not to turn their dominance over the first three days into a victory.
Earlier, Pakistan quick Hasan Ali had taken three for 30 and Will Rhodes and Chris Rushworth two wickets each as Nottinghamshire were dismissed in 56 overs to trail by 416 on first innings.
Having left the field to rumbles of thunder and lightning flashes on Monday evening, Nottinghamshire emerged in glorious sunshine for day three having been urged to fight for their survival, despite being five down for 82, still 489 runs behind. Yet 24 overs and two balls later, they were being asked to follow on.
Mullaney, not out with Tom Moores overnight, was well caught at short midwicket at the end of the fifth full over of the day, a third victim for Hasan Ali. Moores and Calvin Harrison attacked defiantly before departing in consecutive overs. Moores was bowled driving loosely – a first wicket of the season for skipper Will Rhodes – and Harrison, somewhat inevitably after being tempted by several short deliveries on the leg side, miscued one to long leg.
Rhodes picked up his second when Jake Ball fended a short ball to first slip and one over of spin from Danny Briggs was enough to tempt last man Dane Paterson to put one down the throat of long-off.
There was an argument for Rhodes not enforcing the follow-on, given the rising heat and the effort put in by his bowlers to staunch any threat of a Nottinghamshire recovery. If discussed it was rejected, although he might have thought about it again as openers Ben Slater and Haseeb Hameed put on 61 without too many alarms.
But as in the first innings, the introduction of Hassan changed the picture. Hameed, misreading a ball angled in by the Pakistan quick, lost his off stump offering no shot. Two balls later, new man Matt Montgomery was hit in front, beaten for pace.
Clarke, patient at first, hit three lovely straight drives to the boundary off Rhodes but just as it seemed he and Slater might assert themselves and get the innings back on an even keel, the captain brought Briggs on for Hasan at the pavilion end and Slater, perhaps misjudging the bounce, spooned the ball tamely to short midwicket.
Responsibility now sat heavily on Clarke, who passed his first test alongside Lyndon James by ensuring Nottinghamshire reached tea with no more casualties. By then he was on 53 and though 40 of them had come in boundaries he had taken them without unnecessary risk.
James, by contrast, was content simply to block, and the combination worked well as Clarke – helped by four boundaries in one over off the medium pace of Rhodes – moved into the 80s for the first time this season until James, having tucked one away nicely through midwicket for only his third boundary in an hour and three-quarters at the crease, was drawn into playing a ball from Rushworth that took the edge and had him caught at first slip. The fourth-wicket partnership had added exactly 100, easily the biggest of the match for Nottinghamshire, although the deficit remained a daunting 230 runs.
Clarke, who had gone past fifty eight times since his 109 against Yorkshire in the final fixture of the 2021 season without being able to convert, picked up a couple more boundaries off Oliver Hannon-Dalby to move into the 90s but looked nervous as he edged closer to three figures and when he drove Hasan through extra cover to reach the milestone with his 19th boundary it prompted no more than a low-key celebration, perhaps acknowledging that his side still had much to do to save the game.
Warwickshire skipper Will Rhodes said: “It would be nice to have got them five down tonight but to have taken nine wickets on the day on a flat pitch, I’m really happy with where we are in the game.
“We did give a little bit of thought to not enforcing the follow-on but we’ve seen the pitch and how flat it is and we were wary of the time we might need to get them out in the second innings and we knew they wouldn’t roll over like they did first innings.
“Notts showed a bit of character in the last session today and Joe Clarke played a really good innings at a typical Joe Clarke tempo, putting away the bad balls and scoring all around the ground. He is a good player and when he is in good form he is one of the best in the country and it would be good to see him go on to get further honours, along with our No 4 Sam Hain.
“I don’t think they batted particularly well in the first innings and we knew they would be looking to rectify that. But we’ve got four of their top five out, the new ball will be due in the morning and I’d back our bowlers to get six wickets in two sessions.
“Hasan Ali has made things happen when he has come on at first change and him, Chris Rushworth and Olly Hannon-Dalby have been outstanding all year.
“Four-day wins are hard earned but we have dominated I think all nine sessions really, we feel like we have won all three days and we would be disappointed not to come away with a win. Wins in four-day cricket are hard-earned but our bowlers will come back in the morning and give it a real good crack.”
Warwickshire have a firm grip at the halfway stage of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Trent Bridge as they bid to cut Surrey’s lead in the Division One table.
As an approaching electrical storm persuaded umpires Peter Hartley and Steve O’Shaughnessy to take the players off just before five o’clock, Nottinghamshire were in deep trouble at 82 for five in their first innings, still 489 runs behind after Warwickshire declared at 571 for nine.
Pakistan international Hasan Ali had taken two wickets in addition to his quickfire 54 with the bat, with wicketkeeper Michael Burgess grabbing two catches to go with his unbeaten 77 earlier. Nottinghamshire, last season’s Division Two champions, need to score 340 more runs just to avoid being asked to follow on.
No further play was possible but eight of the 22.2 overs lost will be added to the schedule for day three.
Burgess and Hasan shared an 80-run partnership in a productive morning session for Warwickshire, who added 163 to their overnight 361 for five in that time. They lost nightwatchman Danny Briggs, who became a third victim for Jake Ball via a sharp return catch, and all-rounder Ed Barnard, who tried to reverse sweep a Calvin Harrison full toss and was bowled.
But eighth-wicket pair Burgess and Hasan plundered runs at 6.5 per over, the Pakistan fast bowler smiting five sixes, starting as he meant to go on after Barnard’s dismissal by lofting Harrisons’ leg spin over the fence at wide long-on first ball.
He repeated the feat twice more against Harrison and a couple of times off Steven Mullaney’s medium pace before mistiming one off Harrison in the first over after lunch that Matt Montgomery caught falling backwards at deep midwicket. He had faced only 36 balls in making his highest first-class score for Warwickshire so far.
The visitors declared shortly after Chris Rushworth had fallen for 20 off 17 balls, caught at extra cover as Harrison increased his haul to four wickets from a marathon 30-over shift.
The declaration left Nottinghamshire to face 22 overs before tea, which they would have hoped to navigate with perhaps one loss, preferably none. In the event, it was three.
The first 14 of those overs were largely uneventful, with the quota of plays and misses and edges no bigger than is normal with fresh bowlers and a new ball. It all started happening once Hasan Ali entered the fray.
The skiddy right-armer, only just recovered from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three weeks at the start of the Vitality Blast, bowled Haseeb Hameed off a bottom edge with this second delivery only to hear the umpire call ‘no ball’. Two balls later he overstepped again as Hameed clipped him for four. Yet it was the two openers whose equilibrium appeared to be disturbed more than the bowler.
Ben Slater, pushing forward defensively, edged Barnard to first slip before Hameed, driving, was caught behind off a thin edge from the third ball of Hasan’s second over. When Hasan then produced a beauty to bowl a bemused Joe Clarke, Nottinghamshire had gone from 51 without loss to 54 for three, seemingly in the blink of an eye.
The pause for tea was probably welcome, yet things only worsened for the home side soon afterwards as Matt Montgomery, having been patient to that point, went to pull Rushworth but connected poorly, giving Hasan an easy catch at mid-on, leaving Nottinghamshire in dire trouble at 58 for four, still 513 runs behind.
Steven Mullaney did connect as Rushworth began to drop short to him, pulling two meaty sixes back to back, but if this was an attempt to put a little pressure back on the bowlers it did not work, the fifth Nottinghamshire wicket falling two balls later as Lyndon James pushed at one outside off stump from Olly Hannon-Dalby, Burgess snapping up his second catch.
Warwickshire’s Michael Burgess, whose 77 not out was key to his side stretching their first innings total beyond 550, said: “It’s probably been two perfect days, winning the toss and batting first then the lads on a green wicket doing an amazing job. And the bowlers have done what the bowlers have done all year – they’ve been outstanding creating chances on what is a flattening wicket and to have them five down and almost 500 behind is incredible.
“I try not to tell Hasan what to do, I know he’s going to whack it. I was actually struggling getting it away there, and he made it look very easy and put some time back into the game which was great. Ed Barnard’s been just brilliant all year with the bat and he’s more and more consistent.
“It was the right time to declare, definitely the right time. It’s going to be difficult to get fifteen more wickets out there, so you can’t think about yourself in those situations, it’s the right thing for the team.
“I think at 50 for none we thought it would be a long day, even though we were beating the bat a lot and were creating chances. But if you keep putting it in the right areas the chances will come so they deserve the rewards they got. They hold on and hold on, keeping it tight – they must be a nightmare to face.”
Warwickshire ended day one at Trent Bridge in a strong position on 361 for five after Sam Hain posted his third century of the season, sharing a fourth-wicket partnership of 171 with Dan Mousley, who made 87, after opener Alex Davies had scored 93 earlier.
Nottinghamshire have seen two sides of Hain in little more than a week following his 97 not out against them in the Vitality Blast at Edgbaston on June 3. On that occasion, he smashed eight fours and four sixes from just 52 balls but made the switch from white ball to the different qualities required for red ball cricket look effortless in a patient innings spanning 258 minutes and 192 balls.
Having hit eight fours and four sixes and not offered a chance until then, his only regret will be that he was out inside the last four overs of the day’s play for exactly 100.
On a tough day in which home attack gained late rewards for their persistence, the highlight was two wickets for Jake Ball as he returned to first-class action for the first time this season for only his third appearance in three seasons following recurrent back problems.
On the same pitch that saw Nottinghamshire pile up 662 runs batting first against Durham last September, Warwickshire’s decision to bat first quickly looked the right one, its green colour proving deceptive.
Having been eased back into action in the Vitality Blast, collecting 10 wickets in three appearances, Ball marked his first red-ball appearance for almost nine months by taking a wicket in his fifth over as Rob Yates, driving somewhat loosely, was taken comfortably behind the stumps by Tom Moores, who missed the last four Championship rounds with a broken finger.
It happened to be Ball’s 100th first-class wicket for Nottinghamshire but it was his side’s only success in the morning session, albeit one made up of just 27 overs. Davies was troubled early on as Ball found occasional extra bounce from the pavilion end, taking a bang on his right hand for his pains, but otherwise he and Will Rhodes asserted themselves effectively as Warwickshire reached 91 at lunch.
In the event, Rhodes fell five balls into the afternoon session. Ball was again the bowler, although it was a somewhat self-inflicted dismissal by the visiting captain, who took his bat away from one that he plainly thought would miss his off stump and paid the price.
Nottinghamshire maintained an all-seam attack until 18 overs into the second session. In the absence of Liam Patterson-White, who has had a modest season to date and is currently nursing a hamstring injury, 25-year-old Calvin Harrison retained his place following his Championship debut in May and it was the tall leg-spinner who denied Davies what had looked a likely second century of the season.
Harrison induced a miscued drive from Davies in his third over. Presented with a tempting, loopy delivery in the next over, Davies opted to block only for the ball to evade his bat and hit him on the front boot, leg before for 93.
Incoming batter Mousley seemed prepared to go after Harrison when he hammered one down the ground for six but did not persist with the tactic and in the overs before tea there was something in the surface for the leg-spinner and for the off-spin of Matt Montgomery, against whom Hain was lucky with an edge that just evaded first slip, albeit in an over containing three boundaries. Harrison, who had switched ends, then had Mousley and Hain in turn surviving by a whisker and Warwickshire were probably relieved to reach tea with no further casualties at 227 for three.
Yet if the spinners were able to threaten from time to time they found it much harder to contain the fourth-wicket pair. There was no appreciable pace in the pitch and they had time to work the gaps in the field and keep the scoreboard moving in singles, a straight six in the last of Harrison’s 18 overs a rare show of aggression from Hain.
To their credit, the home attack did not flag and Dane Paterson picked up the wicket of Mousley with the second new ball as the left-hander drove extravagantly and was caught behind off an inside edge, before Hain, having just completed his century, was bowled by a fine delivery from Lyndon James that squared him up and took the off stump.
Alex Davies said: “Both teams were a bit confused as to what to do at the toss. Although we showed you can bat well on that pitch, it was definitely tough this morning. I think both captains wanted to lose the toss because they weren’t sure what to do. There was a bit in it for the bowlers but if you could get through it there were runs to be had.
“The lads have played enough cricket now to shift between T20 and red-ball mindsets and ultimately you’ve just got to switch back on to what the team needs. It was a pretty tricky first session and to be 90 for one meant it was our session and we kicked on as the day progressed.
“That partnership with Rhodesy in the morning was crucial after Rob got out. Rhodesy was a bit unlucky to get out straight after lunch and then Hainy does what he does, just bats and bats and bats. There is more to say about him when he doesn’t get runs. He is Mr Consistent, Mr Reliable – I’ve been banging on about it for a while now but how he doesn’t get higher honours is beyond me.
“It was nice to have a little partnership with him. I should potentially have kicked on after doing the hard work. I think I went into my shell a little bit thinking about getting through to tea when possibly I should have kept on being positive. But Dan Mousley came in and showed what a class player he is. He’s got bundles of talent and we just back him to go out and play whatever way he wants to play.
“I think this is already a good score but we’ll come back tomorrow and try to get a few more and then trust our bowlers to make some inroads.”
£15 tickets for home quarter-final
Bears have secured a home Vitality Blast quarter-final which will be on Thursday 6 July, with adult tickets only £15.
Tickets ware available online at tickets.edgbaston.com or on the day via the Ticket Office. Members and Season Pass holders can attend for free by scanning their card at the gate.