Notts edge it at Tunbridge Wells
Notts edge it at Tunbridge Wells

Wily Nottinghamshire veterans Chris Nash and Samit Patel dug in throughout much of the late afternoon gloom in Tunbridge Wells to edge their side into the solid position of 208 for four at the mid-point of their Specsavers County Championship match with Kent.

Responding to Kent’s first day total of 309 at The Nevill Ground, Nottinghamshire moved on cautiously by adding 178 runs for the loss of four wickets on a day reduced to only 71 overs of action by rain and bad light.

Patel reached 42 not out after an uncharacteristic 139-minute stay, while Nottinghamshire captain Steven Mullaney was unbeaten with one having survived the final three deliveries of the day.

Kent had winkled out Nottinghamshire’s first-wicket partners during a hard-fought morning of cut and thrust cricket as openers Ben Duckett and Ben Slater resumed on their overnight score of 30 without loss.

The pair were perhaps fortunate to survive an overcast opening hour as Kent all-rounder Grant Stewart sent down a muscular ‘hit-the-pitch’ stint from the Railway End, while Harry Podmore bowled fuller lengths and swung the ball from the Pavilion End.

The two seamers each beat the outside edge on three or four occasions apiece, but the visiting left-handers survived to post their 50-run stand within 17 overs.

Kent’s leading wicket-taker Matt Milnes replaced Stewart to breakthrough in the 20th over of the innings by running one back in from around the wicket to trap Duckett on the back foot and flush in front of his stumps.

After a useful and luckless seven-over stint, Podmore gave way for third change Wiaan Mulder to strike in his second over by finding Slater’s outside edge for a catch behind the stumps.

Just one wicket fell in the rain ravaged mid-session, that of Joe Clarke who fell for a painstaking 12. Fending outside off to a Milnes away-swinger, the right-hander edged low to see Ollie Robinson, the Kent keeper, dive to his right to snaffle a low chance that would not have carried to slip.

Patel came in with the game truly in the balance and sensibly kerbed his attacking instincts by taking a more measured approach.

The 34-year-old might have gone with four against his name, but, after edging a Mulder leg-cutter to Ollie Rayner at second slip, he was saved by umpire Steve O’Shaughnessy’s call for a no ball.

Patel batted for 62 minutes for five runs when he finally middled a back-foot force through extra cover off Mulder for the first boundary of his stay.

Another shower took the players in for an early tea leading to a scheduled 40-over third session during which Nash reached a cautious half-century from 94 balls and with eight fours.

Kent hurried through to the second new ball by bowling spinners Joe Denly and Rayner in tandem and, by the 80th over, Nottinghamshire had reduced the match deficit to 102 runs with seven wickets still in hand.

The third delivery with the new cherry broke a stand worth 90 runs when Nash, on 67, edged to the keeper off Podmore and marched off in high dudgeon complaining he had been distracted by a white cloth that had fallen from the bowler’s pocket just before his delivery stride.

Three balls later, and much to Nash’s chagrin, all the players trooped off for bad light marking the end of a fascinating if rain-interrupted day.

Kent debutant Ollie Rayner, who has joined the county on loan for the rest of the summer, said: “I think we’ve done really well on the opening two days. I believe we scored over par yesterday reaching 300 after there’d been a leak onto the pitch over the weekend and today we’ve bowled 70-odd overs and conceded only 170 runs, so the bowlers have done a good stint.

“On another day we might have picked up a few more wickets as we’ve had a lot of nicks fly into gaps or fall short, but we believe that if we persist in a good line and length we’ll get our rewards later in the game and hopefully tomorrow will be the day.”

Nottinghamshire’s head coach Peter Moores said: “I thought we played really well today and Chris Nash batted beautifully. It was a tough day to bat. Very still, humid and overcast all day, showers on and off and it swung around all day.

“The partnership between Chris and Samit Patel is exactly what we have been looking for; people being patient and making the bowlers work very hard to get their wicket.

“It’s exactly what we’ve talked about and great to see them do it. It was a real shame for Chris to get out at the end like that. It was a funny one, in that a towel flew out of the bowler’s pocket, so he’ll be disappointed by that but can take a lot of credit in how he played.

“We were asking the question there, at the end, on what happens in incidents like that. Does it become a dead ball or not, as it was certainly a distraction. We’ll ask the umpires about it at the end but it’s unfortunate for Chris.

We’ve done well today but we have to come back tomorrow and play well again.

“There is a forecast of overnight rain and Kent have just taken the second new ball so there’s lots of work to be done yet but we’ve got batters left and we’ll have to keep playing in the same way to build a lead.”


 
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