Durham’s hopes of making early inroads into their 48-point deficit at the foot of Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship were dented by Samit Patel and Michael Lumb at Chester-le-Street.
The season’s first day of competitive action at Emirates Riverside attracted a crowd of 2,190, most of whom would be heartened by Nottinghamshire slumping to 7-3 in reply to 162.
But Patel and Lumb had advanced the total to 85 by the time bad light halted play and after an 80-minute break they went back on for eight overs.
In the third of those Mark Wood skidded one through to have Lumb lbw on the back foot, but two overs later they called it a day. Notts were 96-4, with Patel on 43.
Other than a brief period in early afternoon, when wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter launched an entertaining counter-attack which brought him a maiden 50 off 45 balls, the floodlights were on all day.
But the pitch appeared to be easing as Nottinghamshire’s fourth-wicket pair batted with increasing comfort. The only threat during a short burst from Wood came when Lumb edged him just wide of third slip.
Durham, penalised by the ECB and demoted from the top flight, begin the season on minus 48 points, 70 behind their opponents, who beat Leicestershire at a canter last week.
A sense of indignation hung in the air, with a large banner fixed in place at the Lumley End reading “betrayed cheated but not defeated”.
After Nottinghamshire dispensed with the toss, James Pattinson was the pick of the bowlers as he, the returning Jake Ball and Luke Fletcher took three wickets each.
Bowling round the wicket to Keaton Jennings, who made 28, Pattinson shaped the ball into the left-hander then nipped it away off the pitch to hit off stump.
Ball had the other opener, South African Stephen Cook, caught behind for two when trying to withdraw his bat. He also brought one back to have Paul Collingwood lbw for three as Durham lost three wickets for two runs to slip to 71 for seven.
Poynter followed a couple of early edges with a mixture of bold strokes and improvisation. By guiding short balls from Pattinson over Chris Read he obliged the wicketkeeper to post a backstop.
By the time Fletcher bowled Poynter for 65, the Irishman had put on 58 for the last wicket with Chris Rushworth, who then bowled Jake Libby and pinned Alex Hales lbw for a five-ball duck.
Greg Smith edged Graham Onions to first slip and both bowlers had a big appeal for lbw turned down early in Patel’s innings before he began to drive and pull with increasing authority.
Poynter said: “It’s a massive season for me – it’s good to have a chance with the gloves and chip in with the bat.
“It was difficult when I went in. but I always try to be positive and busy. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked last year, so this is a big step forward for me.”
After taking 3-36 on his return to action, Notts pacemen Jake Ball said: “It was a good start for me. If you had offered us that at the start of the day we would have snapped your hand off.
We bowled really well, especially James Pattinson, then Samit showed that he can thrive at No 3.
“He does not score slowly and will relish the opportunity to score runs while the ball is still new.”