Nottinghamshire13 for 1 trail Yorkshire 264 (Thompson 98, Brook 62, Nash 3-20) by 253 runs
Jonny Bairstow's joie de vivre is sometimes so well-concealed that only someone whose eyesight has been sharpened in Barnard Castle can detect it. Nonetheless, even Yorkshire's sometimes stony-faced wicketkeeper might allow himself a wry smile at the ironies of this game. For one thing, the day on which he had been expected to prove his case for an England recall was instead dominated by one of his country's finer Test wins, a victory in which Jos Buttler, his rival for the gloves, made 75.
And what was even more piquant, any attention paid to Bairstow's 22-ball five against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge was quickly overshadowed by Jordan Thompson, a 23-year-old from Leeds, who fell two runs short of his maiden first-class century, yet was still responsible for Yorkshire making what seems a competitive 264 on the opening day of their Bob Willis Trophy match. Moreover, any satisfaction Steve Patterson felt near the end of the day's play was increased when the skipper induced Chris Nash to play on in the final over of the evening session.
Instead of the scarred battlefield it normally resembles by early August, Trent Bridge's square is still largely untrampled lawn but Nottinghamshire still chose to play this game on the pitch they used when losing to Derbyshire by three wickets in a classic four-day match on Tuesday. This was not, as some thought, an attempt to imitate tight Yorkshiremen - "we're not made of bloody pitches tha' knows" - but rather, one imagines, an attempt to provide the most suitable surface for Samit Patel and Matt Carter, the two specialist spinners they had selected. Such a strategy would have been further justified by Steven Mullaney winning the toss, something he failed to do. So that, we reckoned, in the manner of Dr Bickleigh in Malice Aforethought "put paid to their little game".
Nottinghamshire's side, though, is packed with ambitious cricketers who are hurting after that defeat to Derbyshire on Tuesday and their response to bowling first was to take four wickets in the first session. Not just any wickets either, to use a categorisation the Headingley coaches probably despise, but those of three Test batsmen and an England Lion. The most notable dismissal was that of Bairstow, who returned to four-day cricket with the intention of proving why he should be in the England side but instead showed why he isn't.
Bairstow strode to the wicket in the third over after Adam Lyth's attempted nudge to leg off Jake Ball had resulted only in his lbw. And then, with more than a few lenses focused upon him… nothing much happened. Bairstow let most of his first 17 balls from Ball and Zak Chappell go by, sometimes investing even that behaviour with a trace of contempt, before cover-driving his 18th for four. Next over, though, Chappell had his man when Bairstow cut a steeply bouncing delivery head-high to Patel. It was a stroke he didn't need to play and, more culpably, one he couldn't control.
The dismissal prompted much rejoicing among Mullaney's men and not only because they had removed Bairstow at a cost of five runs. Poor Chappell played six games in three formats for Nottinghamshire's first team last season without taking a single wicket. Six balls later he had two in 2020 when Dawid Malan flirted with one outside the off stump and edged a catch to Tom Moores. And the home side's joyous morning was completed half an hour before lunch when Tom Kohler-Cadmore tried to sweep Carter's offspin but only lobbed a catch off the glove to Mullaney at slip.
Yet while international batsmen of various descriptions had been coming and going, Harry Brook was playing with quiet assurance, reinforcing the fine impression made by his innings of 41 and 66 not out at the Riverside in Yorkshire's previous match. Unbeaten on just five at lunch, Brook hit Chappell for five fours in two overs after lunch, twice pulling him to leg with pleasing violence and straight driving him to the pavilion, a shot for the aesthetes. Mullaney's response to this assault was to put his trust in spin and 36 of the 63 overs bowled by tea had been delivered by the twirlers.
It worked for the Nottinghamshire skipper, too, although not in the way he had envisaged. Jonny Tattersall's dismissal, lbw to Patel for 31 when sweeping, was conventional enough but Nash's delight was surely mixed with incredulity when he gated Brook with the first ball of one of those faintly jocular pre-tea overs that can be trusted to either to spinners or occasional bowlers. Nash, of course, is both - this was his fourth wicket in five seasons - and he was even given five more overs after tea until Mullaney decided, rather in the manner of Mr Bennet, that he had entertained everybody long enough.
In that time the off-spinner had dismissed Patterson for 11 but also seen Thompson reach his fifty with successive slashed fours through the slips off Chappell. Though we didn't know it, the fun was still to come.
Both Duanne Olivier and Jack Shutt were leg before to the frontline Nottinghamshire twirlers very cheaply and Yorkshire were 232 for 9 when Dominic Leech walked out to play his maiden first-class innings. Realising this was no time for nudged singles the left-handed Thompson twice launched Patel high in the direction of West Bridgford and levied a couple of other boundaries in the same over.
Ball replaced Patel and Thompson clipped the England bowler off his hip for a third six, which was followed a few balls later by the mightiest clump of the lot. Now there was some point in a bit of push and run - Leech was defending competently - but the young man tried to reach the landmark in the grand manner… and edged Nash to Mullaney at slip. No doubt Bairstow enjoyed the chutzpah behind the stroke. No doubt he congratulated his young colleague. As ever, tomorrow awaits. There will be more opportunities.