Steven Mullaney’s highest championship score helped Nottinghamshire into a strong position on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Somerset at Trent Bridge.
Mullaney scored an unbeaten 161 and put on 196 for the first wicket with Jake Libby as the home county reached stumps on 311 for four, having won the toss and elected to bat first. The 29-year old Mullaney, returning to the ranks after skippering Notts in the last four matches during Chris Read’s absence, scored his runs from 273 balls, with 23 fours and two sixes.
During the opening three overs of the day Nottinghamshire’s total was aided by three no balls from Lewis Gregory and a wide from Tim Groenewald but it took Libby 27 deliveries before getting off the mark. The 23-year old Cornishman then accelerated nicely with four fours in quick succession – one a sumptuous straight drive off Jim Allenby, the fifth right-arm medium pace bowler used by Chris Rogers in the first hour.
The string of fours meant it was 55 minutes before the batsmen changed ends for the first time and soon they had a different challenge to face as Rogers introduced his sixth bowler, with the slow left arm spin of Jack Leach, who was immediately launched for a straight six by Mullaney.
Two years ago, in the corresponding fixture, Mullaney and Phil Jaques put on 203 against the same opposition and were threatening to match that partnership when Libby fell, slapping Groenewald to gully. Three overs later, the final one before tea, Mullaney reached his hundred with another six off Leach, this time the ball crashed high into the advertising hoardings and almost bounced back as far as the bowler.
Leach, who toiled through 26 overs for figures of two for 96 gained reward in the final session with a couple of wickets before the second new ball was belatedly taken. Michael Lumb feathered the spinner behind to wicketkeeper Ryan Davies for 10 and then Brendan Taylor lofted to mid on for 21.
Two balls after passing his previous championship best of 139, Mullaney offered his only chance of the day but was unexpectedly spared at slip by Marcus Trescothick, from the bowling of Craig Overton. Reprieved, he advanced to his 150 from 252 balls and reached the close only four runs away from his career best 165 not out, made during his time as a Lancashire player, against Durham UCCE in 2007.
The day ended with Luke Fletcher at the crease as nightwatchman, after Jim Allenby trapped Riki Wessels lbw.
Soon after the end of a long day in the field for Somerset Matt Maynard said: “We thought that it was a good toss to win and we would have batted first as well. The wicket is a bit slower than we thought and there wasnt much in it today for our seamers, a little bit for Jack leach but not much so it was a good toss to win on day one.
“Notts capitalised and batted really well, but the positive from our point to view is that they haven’t got away from us and they scored just over 100 runs in each off the sessions. This shows how well we stuck to our task and how well Chris Rogers rotated the bowling.
“I thought that Craig Overton was terrific today and he had one chance put down. There wasn’t much luck for him but he bowled really well, the same with Tim Groenewald who bowled really well and Jim Allenby. Then Jack Leach didn’t start off quite so well, but he got into his spell nicely in the afternoon and evening sessions and helped the run rate come down.
Looking ahead Matt said: “We are going to have to bat really well in our first innings. They applied themselves well and we have got to do the same when we get our opportunity,”