Wells and Balderson post century partnership as batsmen dominate
A century partnership between Luke Wells and George Balderson saw Lancashire battle back after Notts’ pair Lyndon James and Tom Moores had Nottinghamshire firmly in the driving seat with a century alliance of their own on the third day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match at a hot and sunny Trent Bridge.
James made a career-best 91 and Moores 97 to allow Steven Mullaney set Lancashire a target of 444 runs from 135 overs when he declared at 339-8 shortly before tea.
But Wells and Balderson responded superbly following the first over dismissal of Alex Davies to steer Lancashire to 115-1 by the close on a day that saw just four wickets fall.
Resuming play on 127-5 and leading by 231 runs, Moores survived a rising delivery from Tom Bailey in the first over that flew off his bat handle over the slips for four.
But in the main chances were few and far between for the Red Rose attack on a fairly benign surface, although both batsmen survived genuine edges that fell just short or wide of slip to post half-centuries with boundaries; James with his ninth from the 149th ball faced and Moores with his tenth from the 87th ball to take the hosts’ lead past 300.
James hit a glorious drive for four to bring up the century partnership off 208 balls as Notts took a firm grip on the game.
And with time on their side the Notts’ pair were largely content to pick off any wayward deliveries while staying patient and playing defensively when Lancashire bowled straight.
The bowlers stuck to their task of restricting the scoring as much as possible as James and Moores moved along steadily after lunch to extend their partnership to 176 runs before Moores fell three short of what would have been a fine century.
The left-handed batsman decided to take on the off-spin of Wells but holed out to Steven Croft who took a nicely judged catch at mid-wicket.
Incredibly James more or less did exactly the same eight overs later, lofting Wells to substitute fielder Jack Blatherwick at long-on to depart for an excellent career-best 91.
Both probably deserved to go three figures but their efforts were just what host captain Mullaney would have wanted this morning.
The Notts skipper finally called a halt seven overs before tea following a quick-fire unbeaten 37 off 35 balls by Liam Patterson-White after Tom Bailey had picked up the wicket of Brett Hutton bowling off-spin.
And the hosts’ quest for the ten wickets they required for victory had immediate reward when Alex Davies misjudged his first delivery, shouldering arms but lbw to Luke Fletcher when the ball nipped back.
Wells and Balderson responded positively with a series of nice drives and fine glances after tea as the Notts bowlers found the going just as tough as their Red Rose counterparts had done earlier.
Balderson glanced Hutton to fine leg to bring up the 50 partnership off 83 balls and the Red Rose batsmen continued to prosper through the rest of the evening session.
With five overs of the day left Wells struck his tenth boundary to reach his third half-century of the season off 109 balls and that shot also brought up the century partnership from 189 balls.
Wells finished on 57 not out and Balderson was unbeaten on 45, a superb effort by the Red Rose pair who have spent the entire day out in the hot, sunny conditions and their unbroken 110-run partnership has given Lancashire hope of getting something from this game with a day to go.
There was enough turn for left arm spinner Paterson-White to suggest he might be a significant factor tomorrow and Lancashire still face a big task if they are to get further points from this game.
Photos: Luke Adams, Daniel Adams