Nottinghamshire 332 for 7 (Slater 109, Duckett 80, Brathwaite 71, Waite 3-72) v Yorkshire
If Ben Slater‘s motivation for leaving Derbyshire for Trent Bridge was to improve his conversion rate for fifties into hundreds then so far it has been 100 percent successful. The busy left-hander completed 25 half-centuries in a little over five seasons at the County Ground but turned only three into centuries, the last one more than two years ago; on his home debut for Nottinghamshire, he achieved his objective at the first attempt.
Slater and the West Indian Kraigg Brathwaite, who made 71 on what is his home debut also, put on 182 for the first wicket, comfortably the most productive partnership of Nottinghamshire’s season, although Yorkshire mounted something of a fightback late in the day.
Ben Duckett, coming in at No. 4 rather than his familiar position at the top of the order, marked his first appearance since his move from Northamptonshire with a bright 80 from 89 balls, but four wickets claimed for 39 runs redressed the balance a little for Yorkshire in may yet be a crucial fixture in the final equation at the bottom of the Division One table.
The first half of the day, though, belonged squarely to Nottinghamshire, and Slater especially. Apart from one major aberration when he had made only 6, his hundred was a fine one, with boundaries flowing freely as his confidence grew. He worked the ball well off his legs in particular, although some of Yorkshire’s bowling made boundaries a little too easily had at times.
There might have been some nerves as he moved into the 90s, but then Josh Poysden, the legspinner, obligingly lobbed him a rank full toss on 99. He pulled it gleefully between mid-on and mid-wicket for four – his 18th – and raised both arms in the air, the home spectators responding by rising to their feet all round the ground.
Leaving Derbyshire has meant passing up the chance to work again with Dave Houghton, who was batting coach at the County Ground as Slater was breaking into the senior side.Then again, Peter Moores is not a bad substitute.If there is another level Slater has yet to reach, the former England coach will steer him towards it.
Nottinghamshire’s 182 without loss before the first wicket fell was clearly not a score Yorkshire expected to be staring at bleakly on the first afternoon after assessing a thick layer of cloud cover and deciding to bowl. Not too much grass had been left on the pitch but it seemed like a good decision when the first few overs turned into a series of plays and misses by the opening pair.
There seemed to be movement through the air and off the pitch but luck eluded Jack Brooks and Tim Bresnan.Brooks in particular came up with some testing deliveries and it was he who suffered the exasperation of seeing Slater dropped off a miscued pull.Matt Waite, at square leg, seemed to pick the ball up late and it was on him before he was set, a good chance gone begging.
Waite, a pretty sharp 22-year-old right-arm bowler making only his third first-class appearance, made some amends for his error later by claiming three wickets in the space of 20 deliveries, Slater’s being the last of them when he was caught down the leg side by wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall.
He had paid a heavy price, nonetheless, although one that was hard to envisage after an hour, with Nottinghamshire 21 without loss and Slater and partner Brathwaite obliged to take a cautious approach.
The mood changed rather abruptly after Waite, who had bowled well after coming on first change for Brooks, undid five pretty tight overs with a wayward sixth, from which Brathwaite took four boundaries. That was followed by a fairly awful one from Mathew Pillans, making his Yorkshire debut after his move from Surrey, who never found a consistent rhythm all day. Suddenly 30 runs had been added in just two overs and with it the balance tilted to Nottinghamshire.
After Waite’s mid-afternoon burst, though, it began to shift back towardsYorkshire, more so after they were able to claim the second new ball, when Brooks took out Steven Mullaney’s off stump before Bresnan had Duckett caught behind flashing outside off stump and Tom Moores taken at cover in consecutive overs.
Yorkshire, next to bottom of the table after last week’s heavy defeat to Somerset, will draw some encouragement – and they need it in what are tough times. The team picked here showed six changes, although three were down to injuries – the bane of their season – and another due to Kane Williamson’s return to New Zealand. Jack Leaning, though, is dropped.
Nottinghamshire have made three changes. Luke Fletcher has a niggle and Billy Root steps aside for Mullaney’s return. The more surprising omission is Riki Wessels, left out to accommodate Duckett, although it will presumably have been a close call between him, Samit Patel and Jake Libby, whose stats have been broadly similar.