By Rob Barnett at Trent Bridge
With both safe from relegation, Nottinghamshire pursued victory over Somerset at Trent Bridge that will see the sides finish sixth and seventh respectively in the LV= County Championship.
Derbyshire’s first-innings dismissal for 103 at home to Warwickshire 17 miles away around midday meant the Trent Bridge opponents will play in the top flight for a seventh straight season.
Notts and Somerset therefore turned their attention to the battle for Divison One’s sixth spot. The visitors securing a fourth batting point midway through the afternoon session meant Notts must win to seal sixth.
Somerset started the day on 183 for two with James Hildreth and Nick Compton, having added 172, on 102 and 61 respectively.
They extended their stand to 248 in 55 overs as Compton made a patient 87 and Hildreth a smooth season’s-best 161, the latter’s downfall the first of three for no run in seven deliveries against the second new ball.
Harry Gurney snared two of those and, once Peter Trego and Lewis Gregory brought up the vital 350, returned a career-best 5-81 as Somerset conceded a first-innings deficit of 34.
Notts immediately set about quickly building their lead, Steven Mullaney speeding to a 50-ball 59. But two Trego breakthroughs slowed their progress and they closed on 139 for three for a lead of 173 going into the last day of the campaign.
In bright sun early on Compton punched Gurney through the covers for four to secure a first batting point. The double-century stand arrived with Hildreth pulling Luke Fletcher to the rope.
He and Compton soon surpassed the unbroken 216 they shared while both making hundreds in last season’s corresponding fixture.
Compton and Hildreth, again scoring more freely than his partner, grew in authority and looked relatively untroubled on a flat pitch.
Hildreth drove Mullaney, Notts’ sixth bowler, to the cover boundary to avoid the follow-on in the over before Compton was bowled for 87 by Samit Patel’s quicker yorker.
Craig Kieswetter edged low towards slip and survived a loud lbw appeal from Mullaney in the next, after which news arrived of Derbyshire’s relegation.
Patel, who bowled four consecutive maidens, had a close leg-before shout against Hildreth, who was on 149 when Paul Franks had Kieswetter caught at second slip for 14 to herald lunch.
In the first full over after the interval Hildreth, who had been stuck in the 140s for 16.4 overs, played Patel for two beyond midwicket to pass 150. At 153 he had 1,000 first-class runs for the second straight year.
Chris Read claimed the second new ball at the earliest opportunity and, after Hildreth guided Somerset past 300, it yielded quick rewards: Hildreth was caught behind driving at Fletcher before Gurney trapped Jos Buttler in front for 13 to give Notts a second bowling point and had Craig Meschede held in the gully for nought.
Trego almost fell in identical fashion to Meschede but his edge flew just over Michael Lumb. Trego and Gregory, who involuntarily clipped Brett Hutton over the short Fox Road boundary and should have been run out on 26 by James Taylor coming in from point, secured a fourth batting point just before raising a fifty partnership.
Trego may have been caught behind down leg for 14, yet diving wicketkeeper Read could only get a glove-end. He did go for 22, cutting straight to point off Gurney who soon had Alfonso Thomas held at first slip for his five-for.
Jamie Overton was caught behind off Franks as the last three wickets went for seven runs and left Gregory on 40.
Mullaney and Riki Wessels set off with a flurry of fours, the former’s seventh moving the hosts past 50 in the ninth over. His 11th carried him to a 38-ball half-century just before Gregory held a good, low catch at short midwicket to snare Wessels on the pull for 20 off Trego.
Trego had Mullaney held at mid-off shortly before Notts reached three figures, after which first-innings centurion Lumb and Taylor proceeded more cautiously as Thomas returned economical figures of 7-3-6-0.
Lumb fell on 20 when he tamely chipped Meschede to mid-on prior to Kieswetter giving the gloves to Marcus Trescothick and bowling three overs of his off-breaks as Taylor ended on 23.