Nottinghamshire cemented their best start to a County Championship campaign in a decade with a convincing victory over Gloucestershire, with a day to spare at Trent Bridge.
Following-on, the visitors were dismissed for 231 in their second innings, leaving Notts to celebrate victory by an innings and 50 runs. The win, Nottinghamshire’s fourth in five matches – together with last week’s draw against Glamorgan – equals the start they made to the 2007 campaign, their last in the second tier.
That's it. A first career five wicket haul for @Mull05. Gloucestershire 231 all out. Notts win by an innings and 50 runs.Who will stop them?— Matt Davies (@MattDavies_NP) May 28, 2017
Steven Mullaney was the unlikely bowling hero for the home side, taking career-best figures of five for 32, with the main resistance coming from Cameron Bancroft and Phil Mustard. Bancroft scored 53, his highest Championship score, and Mustard followed his first innings half-century with a knock of 49.
Taken aback by his maiden five-wicket haul, Mullaney said: "I’m not really sure what to say because I certainly didn’t expect that to happen when I turned up today. Conditions suited my type of bowling so it was nice to get a few overs under the belt and help the team towards 24 points, which is the main thing.
"All five bowlers have done their bit in this match but it’s me getting the plaudits today. It’s my first five-wicket haul since league cricket in about 2008. It was swinging nicely and we kept the ball in great condition and the wicket had a bit in it throughout."
The morning session began with Gloucestershire on 37 for one in their second innings, still 244 runs behind. For around an hour things went well for the batting side as Bancroft and Will Tavare developed their second-wicket partnership.
Mullaney and Stuart Broad altered the momentum, with a spell that reduced Gloucestershire from 98 for one to 104 for five.
Bancroft had been dropped on 46 when his eagerness to reach 50 persuaded him to flash hard at Broad. The ball flew to third slip, where Samit Patel couldn’t hold on. The Australian eventually brought up his half-century from 88 balls but was then pinned in front by Mullaney.
Two deliveries later, Graeme van Buuren nibbled at the same bowler and was comfortably taken at first slip by Riki Wessels. Chris Read’s hunch to bowl Mullaney had been fully justified with the double-wicket maiden helping him to figures of two for eight from seven tight overs.
Mullaney added: "Ready (captain Chris Read) said early on for me to get loose. He has these feelings every now and again and luckily I repaid him. If they keep producing wickets like that here then hopefully I can be in the game more often than not."
Broad also bagged two wickets in quick succession, ending Tavare’s 105-minute vigil on 20 before bowling George Hankins for nought.
Harry Gurney secured his 250th wicket in first-class cricket when Jack Taylor became the third leg-before wicket victim in the first session, leaving Phil Mustard and Kieran Noema-Barnett to bat through until lunch on 125 for six.
Noema-Barnett enjoyed himself at the start of the afternoon, hitting 30 from 34 balls, before picking out long-leg, off Brett Hutton.
Mullaney then returned to the fold to claim the final three wickets to fall. Mustard was caught at slip, Miles miscued to mid-off and the bowler was able to celebrate his maiden five-wicket haul when Matt Taylor was given out lbw.
Nottinghamshire’s maximum-point haul strengthens their lead at the top of the Division Two table and takes them to 104 points from five matches, ahead of next weekend’s home clash against local rivals Derbyshire.
Gloucestershire remain in mid-table, on 36 points from four matches, but life doesn’t get any easier as their next match is the reverse fixture against Notts, at Bristol in a fortnight.