Samit Patel advertised his potential as a destructive batsman of high quality and a competent left-arm spinner with a magnificent century followed by three wickets here yesterday. But his efforts were not enough to prevent Durham, the holders, moving to within one match of another final in the Friends Provident Trophy, much as they almost threw it all away in an extraordinary finish.
Apparently cruising into the semi-finals at 127 for 1 in the 30th over, two thirds of the way home after Nottinghamshire's 188, they suffered an attack of the jitters not once but twice, losing five wickets in the space of nine overs for 12 runs to slump to 139 for 6, then stumbling again to slip from 163 for 6 to 177 for 9, leaving themselves needing another 12 runs from the last two overs.
In the end they scrambled over the line thanks to Gareth Breese, their West Indies-born all-rounder, who made up for the 50 runs he conceded in eight overs of off-spin by winning the game with two inspired blows against a fired-up Darren Pattinson, smacking a full-toss through the covers for four before launching a towering six over the head of the fast bowler to complete the job with an over to spare.
Yet 23-year-old Patel's 114 was the outstanding innings of the day, worthy of high praise even without the role he played in bringing Nottinghamshire unexpectedly back into the game, his return catch to dismiss Will Smith ending a second-wicket stand of 107 and sparking Durham's middle-order collapse. Yet Notts' total of 188 was always likely to be difficult to defend and gamely though their bowlers fought back, any other outcome would have disguised their feeble attempts to support Patel with the bat.
Three visiting batsmen failed to score; only three (Patel apart) managed more than Mark Ealham's nine and none more than Graeme Swann's 18, although Adam Voges might claim he was unlucky to fall victim to a brilliant run out executed by Neil McKenzie. Patel took his turn at 34 for 3 and as his colleagues floundered he was almost flawless by comparison.
Patel racked up 17 fours and two sixes, the first of which, sent soaring over the head of Breese, took him to 101 and his first one-day hundred. He went from 51 to 101 in only 30 deliveries, an assault of which Breese, who may feel he should have bowled a little fuller, bore the brunt.
Chris Read, the Nottinghamshire captain, might wonder whether the result would have been different had he decided to field first. His bowlers have served him better than his batsmen this season. As it was, they came agonisingly close to vindicating his tactics.