Worcestershire in danger of being sunk by Wessels


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The Independent Online

It is amazing what can be achieved through the simple virtues of application. Nottinghamshire, bowled out for 118 on the opening day against Worcestershire at Trent Bridge, went about their business seemingly with an entirely different mindset, one that paid off to the extent that a failure to launch the new season with a win would be regarded as an opportunity missed after an unbeaten century from Riki Wessels put them in complete control.

Establishing a lead of 343 with three wickets standing and two days left, their performance made the opening-day debacle all the more inexplicable. The only batsman who failed to redeem himself was the highly-regarded James Taylor. Caught off a loose drive in the first innings, he made a simple misjudgement against the seamer, Alan Richardson, who had him leg-before.

By then the foundation for a winning position was in place. Alex Hales and Neil Edwards provided the rare luxury for Nottinghamshire of a substantial opening stand. They were parted on 94 when Hales chipped a catch to extra cover, but it was still the largest total for their side's first wicket since August 2008. Michael Lumb, as in the first innings, found a good ball with his name on it, although at least this time he had scored 40 before it arrived, and then came Chris Read to join Wessels in a partnership of 134 that took the game away from Worcestershire, who made further inroads only after they had taken the second new ball. Batting for much of the time under floodlights, Wessels completed his century, his first in the Championship since moving to Trent Bridge last season,off 128 balls with 13 boundaries.

Nottinghamshire have been given clearance by England to play Graeme Swann in two Championship matches before the start of the Test series against West Indies and hope to have Stuart Broad available for one, provided he makes a full recovery from the calf injury that curtailed his Sri Lanka tour.

Elsewhere, South African fast bowler Vernon Philander finished with five for 43 on his Somerset debut against Middlesex at Taunton, while captain Rory Hamilton-Brown's 89 was instrumental in giving Surrey a lead of 316 over Sussex at The Oval.

Accused of complacency by their own chairman after they were relegated last season, Yorkshire have been left in little doubt that bouncing back to Division One will be no stroll – they were put to the sword for a day and a half by Kent, who declared on 537 for 9 after Matt Coles (103 not out) shared a ninth-wicket stand of 153 with Mark Davies that fell just one run short of the Headingley record. Coles completed his century by reverse-sweeping Adil Rashid for his third six.

In an extraordinary match at Grace Road, Leicestershire, who had been one for three after 10 minutes of the new season, established a lead of 125 when they bowled Glamorgan out for 124 only to be dismissed for 110 batting for the second time.