Fletcher's on fire with career best 6-24 as Notts take control
LV=Insurance County Championship, Group OneNottinghamshire v Essex, Day One, Match report
Nottinghamshire pace bowler Luke Fletcher took a career-best six for 24 as title-holders Essex were bowled out for 99 on the opening day of their LV=Insurance County Championship match at Trent Bridge.Fletcher, who bagged five for 28 against Derbyshire last week, took his wickets in two spells, the second bringing him five for 11 in seven overs, including a triple-wicket maiden.It saw Essex lose their last six wickets for 19 in a dizzy hour after lunch, rewarding Nottinghamshire’s decision to bowl first on a green pitch.Nottinghamshire lost their first four wickets for 84, the Zimbabwe-born Dutch seamer Shane Snater taking three wickets in only his second Championship match, but Lyndon James and Steven Mullaney (63) have seized the initiative in a so-far unbroken partnership of 104 for a lead of 89 by the close.Nick Browne’s 53 was the only worthwhile resistance from the Bob Willis Trophy champions after opening partner Alastair Cook was dismissed for three by former England teammate Stuart Broad.Browne picked up four boundaries in the first three overs but after Cook tentatively edged behind, Fletcher removed Tom Westley’s off stump with the best ball of the morning and Dan Lawrence, dropped at third slip on nought, played across the line to James to be leg before for 14.Broad’s second spell accounted for Paul Walter but Browne was still there on 39 from 71 for four at lunch.The excellent Fletcher soon inflicted further pain as Essex slipped to 86 for six, Ryan ten Doeschate playing round a full delivery before Adam Wheater was strangled down the leg side.Browne hit nine fours in his half century but was well caught at backward point when tempted by some width from Fletcher, who then had Snater caught behind and Peter Siddle leg before to consecutive balls of the same over before Jamie Porter survived his hat-trick attempt.James (2-3) wrapped things up by trapping Simon Harmer in front in the next over.After Nottinghamshire lost Ben Slater, who flicked Snater tamely to square leg and Ben Duckett, edging behind off Porter, in consecutive overs, Joe Clarke and Haseeb Hameed added 43 before Snater removed both, Clarke caught behind, Hameed at second slip with attacking shots outside off stump, the latter missing out by one on a fifth half-century in six innings.But as the ball lost its hardness, James and Mullaney took control, the latter completing an impressive fifty from 57 balls with his 10th boundary.
After his career-best 6-24, Nottinghamshire’s Fletcher said: “I took a lot of confidence from the way I bowled at Derby. I’ve been in decent rhythm all season and I want to hold on to that for as long as possible, but as a unit we bowled well and backed up our performance in the win at Derby.“The ball that got Tom Westley was one of those dream deliveries you hope you can bowl all the time.”“I think we have been good all season and we are now starting to get some rewards for our hard work. If we can get some runs on the board tomorrow we will be in a good position to put them under pressure in the game.”