Onions makes Notts weep
Durham seamer Graham Onions claimed four wickets but Nottinghamshire launched a dogged fightback on day one of their LV= County Championship clash.
Onions showed his usual uncanny accuracy to finish with 4-42, while the equally impressive Mitchell Claydon picked up three scalps as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for a paltry 161 after 59.3 overs on a pitch that offered plenty of assistance to the seamers at the Emirates Durham ICG.
That they reached their eventual total was thanks to a 66-run fifth-wicket partnership between James Taylor and Chris Read, who were the only real batsmen to offer resistance.
Andre Adams then picked up two late wickets as Durham were reduced to 55 for three in reply, leaving the contest finely balanced going into the second day.
Durham may be wishing they had veteran Paul Collingwood, who was ruled out with a virus, to swell their batting ranks, but they were boosted by Ben Stokes’ return to championship action following rehabilitation on a lengthy finger injury.
Nottinghamshire made two changes to the line-up that triumphed over Worcestershire last week, with Samit Patel returning from England duty to replace the injured Riki Wessels, while Andy Carter came in for Graeme White.
Overcast skies and light drizzle meant play did not commence until 12.15pm and it came as no surprise when Durham captain Phil Mustard invited Nottinghamshire to bat first.
Under low cloud and with the ball nibbling around, neither Alex Hales nor opening partner Neil Edwards settled to their task and the latter was dismissed in the eighth over, a full inswinger from Thorp trapping the left-hander plumb in front.
Hales’ cautious innings ended eight balls later when his prod forward off Onions concluded in an edge to Michael Di Venuto at second slip.
Experienced duo Michael Lumb and Patel helped Nottinghamshire reach lunch on 31 for two, but a brilliant over from Stokes immediately after the resumption ended with the former being given out lbw following a full-pitched delivery that cannoned into his pads.
The visitors were four down in the 19th over when Patel’s careless waft down the leg side saw him caught behind off Claydon, who soon had Read in all sorts of problems, beating the Nottinghamshire captain’s bat on three successive occasions.
Read and his partner Taylor continued to lead a charmed life, but the latter did bring up the fifty partnership with a back-foot drive past point for three.
Read cut Dale Benkenstein through point to help Nottinghamshire reach three figures and although Taylor crunched Stokes through backward point for his third four to move to 32, the Durham all-rounder would have his revenge when the former Leicestershire batsman edged the next ball to Thorp at third slip.
Nottinghamshire were back in the mire again in the next over as Claydon claimed the wicket his earlier work deserved when one nipped back to pin Read leg before for 28.
Paul Franks and Ben Phillips set about repairing the innings and they put on a useful partnership of 42 before the latter was caught and bowled by Graham Onions for 17 after pulling a short-pitched delivery straight up in the air.
Adams slashed wildly at Claydon and was bowled, while Onions wrapped up the tail by removing Franks’ off-stump and having Luke Fletcher caught by Scott Borthwick at first slip.
Durham looked to make early inroads into Nottinghamshire’s total, but they, too, were in trouble early as Di Venuto could only pull to a backtracking Lumb at square-leg after Phillips had extracted some bounce off the pitch.
Will Smith and Mark Stoneman looked uncomfortable at the crease and were both caught in the slips off Adams.
Stokes and Benkenstein repelled Nottinghamshire’s attack superbly, though, and put on an unbroken 22 for the fourth wicket.