THE belief that Ben Stokes has the gift of making things happen gained credence yesterday when, in successive overs, he had Nottinghamshire’s two top scorers caught at third man.
He later claimed a third scalp and there were also three wickets each for Usman Arshad and 19-year-old Scot Gavin Main on his debut.
Main recovered from a horribly nervous start as Durham fought valiantly to overcome their injury crisis and dismissed Nottinghamshire for 377 in the final over of a cool, generally sunny day at Trent Bridge.
Although Durham didn’t use the second new ball to best advantage, the total looked like being higher during a fourth-wicket stand of 192 between Samit Patel and James Taylor.
Having comfortably staged a recovery from 29 for three, they were threatening to inflict match-defining damage when they fell in bizarre fashion.
In the old days of black and white movies the area 40 yards behind the slips was where fast bowlers were sent to lurk in the shadows, much as Orson Welles did in the film The Third Man.
Nowadays the area is often left vacant, allowing edges to go for four, but when Gareth Breese was asked to drop back there from second slip it yielded amazing results.
Patel was on 99 when he was surprised by steep bounce from Stokes and the ball flew off the shoulder of his bat for Breese to run in and dive forward to hold an excellent catch. He was more like Allan Wells than Orson.
Two overs later Taylor departed for 88 when he drove at a wide one and sliced for Breese, 15 yards in from the boundary, to move to his right and cling on again.
Stokes was often Durham’s partnership breaker last season and by claiming those two scalps, however fortuitously, he had more than done his bit on his return from a broken wrist.
He looked rusty in his six-over first spell, opening up with a leg-side wide and conceding 22 runs in his fifth and sixth overs. At the same time Main was being hit for three fours in each of his first and third overs, setting Patel on the way to a 41-ball half-century as Durham’s early grip swiftly vanished.
Play began half an hour late following rain and Durham included the lean, 6ft 2in Main in the absence of Graham Onions, Mark Wood and Jamie Harrison.
Onions needs another week to recover from his back injury and was drafted into the commentary team for the one-day international at Chester-le-Street.
Main, from Carluke in Lanarkshire, has been in the Durham Academy since
2011 but has yet to play for the senior Scotland side.
He began the season behind Paul Coughlin in the Durham pecking order of seamers, but the Sunderland lad has also been injured. And with Scott Borthwick ruled out, Durham went for the experience of Breese rather than give Ryan Pringle a second game after his chastening debut at Taunton.
Breese, a little unfortunate not to have Patel lbw in his first over, performed the holding role, getting through 24 wicketless overs for 81 runs, despite being driven for two sixes by Taylor and one by Patel.
After Nottinghamshire chose to bat Chris Rushworth took a wicket with the first ball for the second successive match and Arshad picked up two in an impressive spell.
Steven Mullaney pushed forward and edged Rushworth to Phil Mustard but it was the bowler’s only reward in 22 overs.
Arshad beat left-hander Phil Jaques several times before having him caught at second slip by Breese.
Handed the new ball for the first time, Arshad also beat both Taylor and Michael Lumb before the latter pulled a long hop straight to Keaton Jennings at deep square leg.
Main’s jittery introduction allowed Patel to make a blistering start, but after reaching 50 he throttled back and allowed Taylor to dominate.
He swept Breese for his tenth four to reach 50 off 79 balls then hit his two sixes before, on 69, he survived an appeal for caught behind off Rushworth. Taylor shook his hand as though he had been hit on the glove, the only explanation being that he had been struck painfully on the hand earlier.
Main was finally recalled just before tea and appeared to have been told to use his height and hit the deck. He forced Chris Read, on seven, to lob the ball just over short leg’s head, then claimed his maiden wicket when he persuaded Riki Wessels to fend a return catch.
Stuart Broad, making his comeback after a knee problem, was also treated to a few short ones before being surprised by a superb yorker, which took out his off stump.
At 281 for seven Durham would be well satisfied, but taking the new ball two overs later did them no favours.
Australian Peter Siddle contributed 31 to a stand of 59 with Read before Stokes had him lbw.
When Main returned Ajmal Shahzad skied an attempted hook off the Scot’s first ball to Michael Richardson at deep square leg. Then the usual slogs from Andre Adams contributed 19 before Breese held his fourth catch at long-off, leaving Read unbeaten on 59.
At Trent Bridge.
Nottinghamshire Won Toss
Nottinghamshire First Innings
SJ Mullaney cMustard bRushworth.....0
P A Jaques cBreese b Arshad...........11
M J Lumb c Jennings b Arshad...........13
J W Taylor cBreese b Stokes .............88
S R Patel cBreese b Stokes...............99
M H Wessels c & b Main......................23
C M Read not out...................................59
S C Broad b Main....................................0
P M Siddle lbwb Stokes......................31
A Shahzad c Richardson b Main ..........7
AR Adams cBreese b Arshad...........19
Extras (b5 lb9w1 nb12 pens 0).............27
Total (95.5 overs)...............377
Fall: 1-0 2-24 3-29 4-221 5-232 6-271
7-281 8-340 9-357
Bowling: Rushworth 22-6-56-1. Arshad
18.5-6-71-3. Main 13-2-72-3. Stokes 15-
0-70-3. Jennings 3-0-13-0. Breese 24-6-