Home cricket Recent Match Report – Worcs vs Notts Group 1 2021

Recent Match Report – Worcs vs Notts Group 1 2021

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Nottinghamshire opener ends day not-out in follow-on as Worcestershire keep pressing

Nottinghamshire 276 (Hameed 111, Moores 62; Morris 3-30) and 87 for 0 (Slater 45*, Hameed 37*) trail Worcestershire 436 by 73 runs

Haseeb Hameed is long past the time in his life when he accepts cricket’s assurances at face value. While the rest of us are free to view the perfectly timed push through the off side that brought him to his first hundred in over two years as marking a further confirmation of his return to form after haunted late seasons at Lancashire, the batsman himself will now want more, for both himself and for Nottinghamshire. He was plainly irritated to be caught behind by Ben Cox off Joe Leach for 111 when trying to angle the ball to third man. In the manner of all professional batsmen his attention will have shifted to the next innings.

That opportunity was not long in arriving. Hameed had been one of the last five Nottinghamshire batsmen dismissed in little more than ten overs and his side’s concession of a 160-run first-innings lead was followed quickly afterwards by Leach exercising his option of enforcing the follow-on. This was a surprise in itself: unless time is clearly pressing, asking a side to bat again sometimes seems to belong to the same era as pressing button B, buying a postal order or listening to the Third Programme on a wireless receiving set.

Nevertheless, barely 40 minutes after he trooped off New Road, slapping his pad in annoyance, Hameed was walking out again to face an attack clearly set on keeping their boots on the necks of Nottinghamshire’s cricketers. Like the April sunshine on this chilly afternoon at Worcester, his century was to be enjoyed but not yet unconditionally trusted. There was more work to be done. And despite the fact that he had already batted 400 minutes, Hameed will have relished this fresh responsibility just as he welcomed being appointed Nottinghamshire’s vice-captain at the start of this season. For one thing, fresh labours will replace some painful memories…

In 2016 watching Hameed bat might have been prescribed for people needing to find calm in their lives; three years later, a disordered relic of that gorgeous technique had itself become enough to cause anxiety among spectators. A player who had once invested the act of leaving the ball with natural grace suddenly found he was incapable of performing the act with even functional efficiency. Hameed was lbw or bowled letting deliveries go; he nicked catches off balls he should have left. A barely launched career that had been a statistical wonder became a repository of oddities. Lovers of the game who had derived deep joy from Hameed’s batting sat in the stands like John Steinbeck’s farmers: thinking, figuring, but never quite losing hope. After all, this was ‘Has’ and they had been through a lot together.

Early in 2019 there had been a quite lovely hundred against Middlesex at Lord’s but that summer brought him only 341 first-class runs and in late August the player seen two years previously as the future of English top-order batting was released by Lancashire. The news broke during an Ashes Test in which, so it had once been blithely assumed, Hameed was likely to be playing. Some thought Old Trafford’s decision premature but it was actually helpful. In order to revive the gift he valued most of all, Hameed needed to free himself from connections that had outlived their usefulness. Trent Bridge and the coaching of Peter Moores seemed the place to go. It still does.

In such a broad context it is easy to imagine the quiet pleasure Hameed might have derived from helping his fellow opener, Ben Slater, bat out the remaining 35 overs of this day. Nottinghamshire reached the close on 87 without loss after the third evening’s cricket at New Road bore a remarkable resemblance to the second. But Nottinghamshire’s coaches will hope that is where the comparisons end.

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