By James O'Brien
Ashwell Prince's century was not enough to save Lancashire as Nottinghamshire held their nerve to claim a 45-run victory on an exciting final day of the LV= County Championship Division One match at Trent Bridge.
Harry Gurney took the final wicket of Prince on exactly 100 to finish with figures of 4-81 and ensure Lancashire made a losing start on their return to the top flight.
Earlier, the visitors collapsed from 76 for one to 112 for six, only to be rescued by a 147-run partnership between Prince and Tom Smith – the all-rounder concluding a fine individual match with 76.
At one stage it looked as if the pair would lead the Red Rose to a remarkable win but the second new ball proved their undoing as they fell short of the target of 349.
Paul Horton went into day four having failed to score from the 46 balls he had faced in the match but he hit a four off the second delivery of the morning and that set the tone for Lancashire’s fruitful opening hour.
Nightwatchman Simon Kerrigan helped put on 42 runs in the first 10 overs and the second-wicket partnership had reached 70 when Horton edged a good delivery by Jake Ball behind to fall nine short of a half-century.
The breakthrough gave the home side an extra spring in their step and they were back in control of the match after Patel had Andrea Agathangelou caught low down by Riki Wessels at first slip and trapped Kerrigan in front for 33.
Ball claimed his second wicket of the morning in the penultimate over before lunch when he drew Luke Procter forward and found the edge of his bat, Chris Read again taking the catch.
The Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper missed a stumping chance in the final minutes of the session as Prince ran past a Patel delivery with just six to his name.
Alex Davies came out firing after the interval as he hit three fours in quick succession but his short stay at the crease was ended by a rising delivery from Gurney.
Prince gone! Bowled by Gurney for 100 off 181 balls. 303 all out. Lancs lose by 45 with 11.1 overs left. #lccc
— Lancashire CCC (@LancsCCC) April 9, 2014
Prince was handed another reprieve on 18 when Ball put down a tough low chance at mid-off off Andy Carter.
The runs began to flow thereafter for Prince and Smith as 22 came in just 10 balls.
Both batsmen passed 50 and the century partnership came up as the pair set up an intriguing last session, with Lancashire left needing 131 runs for victory and Nottinghamshire four wickets.
The Red Rose made serene progress after tea but Notts regained the upper hand when Smith was squared up by Luke Fletcher's second delivery with the new ball and edged to Wessels in the cordon.
Fletcher then found Wayne White's back pad and the umpire raised his finger to leave Nottinghamshire needing just two wickets to wrap up a hard-fought win.
Kabir Ali flicked Gurney straight to Alex Hales at square-leg but Prince, who will retire from first-class cricket at the end of this season, was not yet done.
The veteran South African got lucky when he top-edged a pull in between two fielders but required no good fortune in the next over when he hit Carter over the rope for six.
Moments after bringing up his century, Prince was bowled by a leg-stump full-toss from Gurney as Lancashire's resistance came to an end.