Nottinghamshire’s brittle batting found no respite in Birmingham as they struggled to 125 for six against Warwickshire on a rain-affected opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.
After last week’s double implosion against Surrey at The Oval, where failure to reach 200 in either innings left them beaten by 228 runs, the East Midlanders were eager to occupy the crease at length after choosing to bat.
But only Jake Libby (59, 173 balls, five fours) showed the necessary resolve and technique on a slow pitch to defy for long against an attack robustly led by Boyd Rankin and Rikki Clarke.
When rain arrived just before tea to end play for the day, Rankin had three for 28 from 14 overs including a fiery mid-afternoon burst of three for four in 24 balls which eviscerated the middle order.
Clarke has so far collected just one wicket but the sustained pressure he imposed, first with the new ball then again after lunch, is accurately-reflected by figures of 14-5-18-1.
All day the home seamers bowled accurately to offer no cheap runs to a batting unit short of confidence. Clarke struck first when he hit Steve Mullaney’s off-stump before Michael Lumb’s 62-minute stay for just ten runs ended with an lbw decision from Jeetan Patel’s arm-ball.
Ireland seamer Mark Adair, playing only his second championship match, played his full part in maintaining the pressure, conceding just seven runs in his first seven overs, but it was a post-lunch burst from his countryman that turned the innings from struggle into strife.
After Billy Taylor carelessly lifted Keith Barker into the hands of long-leg, Rankin dropped perfectly into rhythm from the Birmingham End. Rising deliveries induced outside-edges from Rikki Wessels, Samit Patel and Libby, each nestling in the gloves of Tim Ambrose.
Fluent batting is likely to remain tricky on a grudging surface but Nottinghamshire’s seam attack, in which Harry Gurney, who has a bruised heel, has been replaced by Luke Fletcher, will need to bowl with a similar aggression and discipline to the home side’s.
They expect to have Stuart Broad available for the next championship match, against Lancashire at Trent Bridge. How they could do with him at Edgbaston where, back in 2010, he ran through Warwickshire’s batting with a then career-best of eight for 52.