Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire: Yorkshire face test of nerve following fightback

IT was difficult to know what was more remarkable. Nottinghamshire's capitulation to 59 all-out on the opening day – the lowest County Championship total against Yorkshire for 31 years.

Or the home team's rousing recovery yesterday to gain an improbable lead of 152 with four second innings wickets remaining.

Either way, one would have to go far to witness two more contrasting days than those which have scintillated in the shadow of the Trent.

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At the end of day one, Yorkshire must have thought they had this game done and dusted.

After routing the league leaders with embarrassing ease, Andrew Gale's third-placed team raced to 260-8 at stumps as Gale himself led the way with a majestic, unbeaten 147.

But after Yorkshire lost their last two wickets inside the first 13 balls yesterday after play began 45 minutes late due to rain, Nottinghamshire showed they are not top of the league for nothing as they mounted a stirring fightback.

At stumps, Chris Read's men were 357-6 after Mark Wagh (90), Paul Franks (79) and Adam Voges (72) dug them out of a huge hole.

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Having been completely out of contention 24 hours earlier, Nottinghamshire now have an outside chance of forcing a win that would give them one hand on the trophy and finally kill off Yorkshire's courageous charge.

But on a pitch that has eased considerably after the blink-and-you'll-miss-it drama of day one, Yorkshire remain favourites to pull off a victory that would blow the title race wide open going into next week's final round of matches.

Already this season they have chased 299 against Durham at Chester-le-Street, 291 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, 200 against Warwickshire at Headingley and 198 against Somerset, also at Headingley.

The surface is only likely to get slower and lower and Yorkshire's biggest test will be to keep their nerve.

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There was no doubt the changing nature of the pitch played a key role in explaining why the game somersaulted so dramatically.

On Tuesday, a combination of perfect bowling conditions and near-perfect bowling was too much for a Nottinghamshire side who subsided spectacularly.

Yesterday, Yorkshire's bowling was less than perfect and the hosts capitalised beneath overcast skies.

Earlier, the swift end to Yorkshire's innings did not stop Gale accruing the runs he required to go past his previous career-best of 150 against Surrey at The Oval in 2008.

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He reached the landmark with a cover-driven four off Franks to the foot of the Fox Road stand and finished unbeaten on 151, made from 176 balls with 22 fours.

The men to fall were Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Moin Ashraf, lbw and caught at third slip respectively off Andre Adams, who returned 6-82.

Trailing by 205, Nottinghamshire chose a good time to mount their highest opening stand of the Championship season.

In fairness, Alex Hales and Franks did not have much to beat – the previous best was 43 against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in June – and they had taken their partnership to 56 when Hales was caught behind off Ashraf.

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Franks, who normally bats in the lower order, is no mug with the willow and has scored four first-class hundreds.

The left-hander played several strokes of which any top-order batsman would be proud as Yorkshire bowled inconsistently and without much luck.

Indeed, the visitors served up a curious mixture of splendid deliveries that did everything but find the outside edge and balls that positively begged to be struck to the boundary.

Franks, who whipped beautifully off his legs and drove handsomely through the covers, took advantage on his way to a season's best 79 before he was second out on 187, caught by Jacques Rudolph at slip off Adil Rashid.

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The leg-spinner was not introduced until the 43rd over, by which time Nottinghamshire were 184-1.

After adding 131 with Franks in 26 overs, Wagh raised 91 with Voges before falling 10 short of a hundred in disappointing fashion.

Having just lofted Rashid for a straight six into the Radcliffe Road stand, Wagh tried to repeat the feat but spooned miserably to mid-on.

Samit Patel and Ali Brown also played poor strokes as they fell to catches behind the wicket.

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Just before the close, Hannon-Dalby picked up the key wicket of Voges, caught behind, but Read is still there on 24.

The Nottinghamshire captain had a life on 11 when he was inexplicably dropped by wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy off Ajmal Shahzad, who claimed 2-66.


Paul Franks

After returning 3-58 with the ball, the makeshift opener provided the platform for Notts' fightback as he scored 79 from 114 deliveries with 12 fours.