England hopefuls suffer debut flops as 20 wickets fall

Nottinghamshire 118 Worcestershire 130

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The Independent Online

Bold forecasts can never be relied upon not to bite you where it hurts and Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire captain, may conclude that he ought to have known better than to promise too much, too soon of his supposedly strengthened batting line-up.

Poor returns from their top order undermined his side too often as they failed to mount a successful defence of their 2010 County Championship last season – and not only when the finger of blame could be pointed at bowler-friendly Trent Bridge pitches.

Nottinghamshire's answer was to dip ambitiously into the transfer market, signing the experienced Michael Lumb and the prodigiously gifted James Taylor, prompting Read to announce he had his strongest batting line-up since 2005, when New Zealand's Stephen Fleming led them to the title and David Hussey, Jason Gallian and Darren Bicknell each scored more than 1,100 runs.

Unfortunately, Lumb and Taylor could do no more in their first attempt to put matters right than provide two different names in an otherwise familiar story as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 118. Not that Worcestershire did a lot better themselves, dismissed in what proved to be the last over of the day with a lead of just 12. But then no one is promising anything of them beyond another struggle to avoid relegation.

In mitigation of both sides, it should be said that if there was ever a time that the Trent Bridge pitch would prove hazardous, then the first week in April was a strong contender, although in the event it was not to blame. Much more it was a story of bowlers honed enough to maintain a length at which swing would come into play against batsmen too easily tempted into an ill-judged shot.

To be fair to Lumb, whose last innings here had resulted in a double-hundred for Hampshire in August 2009, the ball from Worcestershire debutant David Lucas that he edged to wicketkeeper Ben Scott was a decent one, leaving him very late.

Lumb's departure ushered in Taylor at 17 for 2, in which circumstances you wondered if the England Lions captain might take a circumspect approach. Yet two balls after getting off the mark with a boundary past point he attempted to repeat the feat, only to find the fielder.

It was Richard Jones, at 26 a relative youngster next to the 33-year-old Lucas and the tireless Alan Richardson, who will be 37 next month, who drew the most benefit from Nottinghamshire's carelessness, finishing with six for 32.

Only all-rounder Paul Franks, drawing on 16 seasons playing on these wickets, properly bucked the trend, finishing unbeaten on 51.