Hales hits ton to dent Durham title chances

Nottinghamshire 270 Durham 44-3

Depleted Durham must have feared a long time in the field after Nottinghamshire chose to bat first on a pitch sited little more than a firm push from the boundary adjoining the Bridgford Road stand. Having been knocked off the top by Lancashire last week, the champions of 2008 and 2009 realistically have to win here to prevent their title chance slipping away.

Yet despite the absence of Graham Onions and Ben Stokes – called up for England's one-day match against Ireland in Dublin on Thursday – in an attack already without Steve Harmison through injury, they faced somewhat less steep a fight than had looked probable when Nottinghamshire were 130 for 2. The 2010 champions have never really threatened to retain their crown and their performance with the bat tended to explain why.

Alex Hales, the England Lions batsman, advanced his reputation with a second century in his last three innings here but with no one providing substantial support a total of 270 all out was probably 50 runs below par.

The big disappointment was Darren Bravo, the West Indian making his home debut, who looked in the mood to take full advantage of the short boundary but was probably guilty of over-eagerness when a lavish drive off Ruel Brathwaite ended up in the wicketkeeper's gloves and it took a boisterous 18-ball 28 from tailender Darren Pattinson, who hit three sixes, to secure Notts a second batting point.

In their defence, some inconsistent bounce made batting increasingly hazardous, as Durham found when they lost their first three wickets for 27.