Nathan Smith's allround impact leaves Nottinghamshire praying for rain

Nathan Smith runs into bowl Getty Images

Nottinghamshire 399 and 151 for 7 (Duckett 63, Smith 4-29) lead Worcestershire 355 (Jones 90, Smith 58, D'Oliveira 54, Harrison 5-128) lead by 195 runs

Nathan Smith, Worcestershire's new Kiwi signing, made 58 as his side, six-down overnight, added a crucial 135 lower-order runs to total 355 and then took four wickets in seven balls as Nottinghamshire, batting again, went to a shell-shocked 151 for 7 at the close, a lead of 195.

In a season notable for leg-spin, another of that craft, Calvin Harrison, completed a maiden five-wicket bag for the home side earlier on the third day of this Vitality County Championship match but Smith's thrilling counter with pace in the evening raised the spectre of a second home batting debacle at Trent Bridge in seven days.

Ben Duckett raced to 63 from 87 balls until undone an hour from the close, the first casualty of a triple-wicket maiden to which Smith then added a fourth success, ripping out Jack Haynes's off stump. When Ben Slater went to a reflex short-leg catch off Josh Baker and Harrison was bowled by Adam Finch offering no shot, the collapse had encompassed six wickets for 19 runs in 51 balls from 125 for one.

With heavy showers forecast for Monday morning, Nottinghamshire, needing quick progress, belted 57 from a dozen overs either side of tea in an opening stand of 81. It is now more a question of whether they are bowled out before they are able to set a target.

The visitors resumed their overnight seventh-wicket partnership and had added exactly 50 more runs before slow left-armer Liam Patterson-White, with only one wicket in five games of a difficult 2023 campaign, gained a first success this year when Brett D'Oliveira fell leg-before for 54.

But Smith, a good enough No. 8 to have hit a hundred and average 27 back in New Zealand, continued past his fifty from 103 balls after Baker, deceived in the flight, gave Harrison his fourth wicket via a third return catch. Once Joe Leach, no rabbit either, had escaped a run-out chance on one, lunch came at 331 for eight.

Harrison was briefly stood down - following 36 consecutive overs from before tea on Saturday but no maiden until his 26th - and it was Dillon Pennington with the new ball who finally had Smith caught, hooking to the deep. The return of Harrison undid the last man and left Leach unbeaten with 48.

Harrison's figures, 36.3-2-128-5, evoked those of wrist-spinners of another era and were completed even as, down in Chelmsford, fellow leggie Matt Critchley took his first five-wicket bag since joining Essex in 2022. With Cameron Steel also taking a maiden five-for for Surrey in the opening round last week, the Kookaburra ball has at least given leg-spin a chance.

But it certainly couldn't stifle Smith, tearing in from the Stuart Broad End in late sunshine after Haseeb Hameed skied a catch to point for 40 off Baker's left-arm spin. In his eighth over, Smith had Duckett caught at square leg, flicking a ball off his hip, saw Joe Clarke superbly caught by the diving keeper, then shot out Matt Montgomery, a second duck, leg-before.

He reached the close with figures of 11-4-29-4, meaning that Nottinghamshire may be the keener of the two sides to hope that rain does indeed arrive on the final day.

Nottingham 3rd innings Partnerships

1st81BM DuckettH Hameed
2nd44BT SlaterBM Duckett
3rd0BT SlaterJM Clarke
4th0BT SlaterM Montgomery
5th2BT SlaterJA Haynes
6th10BT SlaterLW James
7th7CG HarrisonLW James
8th7LA Patterson-WhiteLW James