Some time in the next couple of weeks, Mick Newell and Peter Moores will be asked to present their credentials as England seek a successor to Andy Flower as head coach of the Test and limited-overs teams, a process on which the outcome of this match will have no bearing at all.
It is intriguing, nonetheless, that as the coaches of Nottinghamshire and Lancashire respectively they find themselves up against each other in the opening round of the County Championship, which gives the result here just a touch more piquancy.
So far, you would say, it is more likely to be Newell who enjoys the privilege of wishing his rival the best of luck with a cheerier note in his voice. With a lead at the close of 341 built around an aggressive 90 from the South African Riki Wessels, his side will attempt today to claim the nine more Lancashire wickets that will give their season a winning start.
On the evidence of today, when 15 wickets fell, Lancashire will have to bat pretty well to escape. The home side, looking to score quickly, were less than cautious at times but their collapse from 188 for 3 to 220 all out was by no means a catalogue of self-inflicted blows as all-rounder Tom Smith at last enjoyed some reward for bowling impressively throughout, finishing with five wickets.
Smith, whose unbeaten 42 with the bat enabled Lancashire to avoid the follow-on earlier in the day, took his wickets in an eight-over spell at the Pavilion End. He removed Michael Lumb and Alex Hales, the England Twenty20 duo, in the space of five balls, the former edging a ball that left him sharply before Hales, facing his fourth delivery without scoring, shouldered arms to one that came back.
Once in among the tail Smith dismissed Luke Fletcher and Jake Ball in consecutive deliveries, during a run in which Nottinghamshire lost six wickets for 14 runs in 46 balls, and finished the innings off when he trapped Harry Gurney leg before.
But Nottinghamshire were in a strong position thanks to Wessels, who hit 10 fours and two sixes – both off the prospective England spinner Simon Kerrigan – before James Anderson uprooted his middle and leg stumps on 90.
When Kabir Ali, the once-capped former England pace bowler playing his first Championship match for Lancashire 18 months after joining them from Hampshire, took three wickets in the space of 14 balls to have Nottinghamshire 71 for 3, Lancashire were still in the match.
But a stand of 117 between Lumb and Wessels, including a five-run penalty when Smith, fielding at slip, deflected a ball edged just short of him by Lumb into the helmet behind wicketkeeper Alex Davies, took it away from them.Reuse content