Hales sees Notts home
Nottinghamshire's Alex Hales showcased his considerable potential with a fine innings of 84 as the LV= County Championship defending champions completed a three-wicket win over Worcestershire.
In an enthralling final day’s play, the visitors were bowled out for 328 in their second innings to set the hosts 262 to win off 67 overs, Alexei Kervezee top-scoring with 128 and Paul Franks claiming 3-49.
On a pitch showing continuing signs of variable bounce, Notts lost both openers cheaply but 22-year-old Hales batted superbly to push them to within 59 of victory.
Although he fell 16 short of a deserved century, skipper Chris Read’s calm 35 finished off the chase with 44 balls to spare and put his side top of the table.
Resuming on 256 for five, Worcestershire extended their overnight lead of 189 by 16 before Kervezee’s excellent innings was ended by a lethal delivery from Franks that popped off a length to take the glove and loop to gully.
Gareth Andrew edged the same bowler to Read behind the stumps four overs later, before Luke Fletcher, armed with the new ball, had Ben Cox caught behind and Andre Adams bowled Matt Mason.
Damien Wright was last man out for 33, leaving Nottinghamshire to negotiate two overs before lunch.
Neil Edwards and Mark Wagh fell straight after the interval, Edwards gloving Alan Richardson to Cox, while Wagh was lbw to the seamer in his next over.
Hales and Samit Patel batted with composure and were quick to punish any bad balls in advancing the score to 83 before the returning Richardson’s off-cutter removed Patel for 29, caught behind off an inside edge.
Worcestershire continued to offer up too many easy boundaries, however, and Hales and Adam Voges added 96 in just 20 overs either side of tea.
With 83 needed, Worcestershire’s hopes were given a lift when Voges was trapped lbw by Wright, while Hales fell off a leading edge to Gareth Andrew, having hit 13 fours in his 112-ball stay.
Hales’ dismay at being dismissed having passed 80 without reaching 100 for the seventh time in his career would have been exacerbated when Steven Mullaney was bowled by Wright.
But Read and Franks put on 52 in 12 overs to close in on victory before Franks was brilliantly caught at midwicket for 26 to give Richardson his ninth wicket of the match.
Read sealed the victory with a straight six off Moeen Ali in the next over for Nottinghamshire’s third win from three, putting them a point ahead of Durham with a game in hand.