Zak Chappell provides the point of difference to ruffle Warwickshire’s poise


Michael Burgess resists after Nottinghamshire find route through middle-order

Warwickshire 341 (Rhodes 91, Lamb 67, Paterson 5-90) and 201 for 6 (Rhodes 63, Burgess 61*, Chappell 3-53) lead Nottinghamshire 297 (Slater 77, Clarke 61, Norwell 4-64) by 245 runs

There were eyebrows raised at the start of the 2018 season when several counties, among them some of the biggest in the game, became embroiled in something of a bidding war for the services of Zak Chappell.

To some extent you can understand it, too. At the start of that season, Chappell had played 10 first-class games and claimed just 15 wickets at an average in excess of 50. Only towards the end of his time at Leicestershire, with the sharks circling and his departure all but guaranteed, did he pick up 16 wickets in three matches.

He didn’t make the most overwhelming start at Nottinghamshire, either. In that first season there, in 2019, he played three Championship matches across six months and didn’t take a wicket in any of them. You could probably forgive their supporters – or the likes of Luke Wood, who was eventually obliged to move on to gain more regular first team opportunities – for wondering what all the fuss was about.

But there’s something there. Something that isn’t always nurtured on the sluggish wickets on which modern Championship wicket – played in the margins of the season, as it is – is played. But something a bit special nevertheless.

He showed it here. If the wicket of Pieter Malan, slapping a short ball to cover, was unremarkable, his next two wickets were testament to rare skill. First Sam Hain edged one which was angled in but then bounced and left him – a beautiful delivery, by any standards – before Will Rhodes was bowled by a full one that pitched outside leg and swung deliciously late to take his off bail. He had already had Rhodes, on five, edging to slip. It was unclear whether the ball carried to Haseeb Hameed. Rhodes, who came into this game having not made a half-century this season, went on to make his second of the match. He looked in fine touch.

Clearly one decent spell of bowling from Chappell doesn’t make a season. And clearly his first-class bowling average for Nottinghamshire heading into this game – 47.27 – isn’t adequate. But when pitches are flat and batters are set, it is bowlers like Chappell, with his height, his pace and his skill combining, at his best, to offer a compelling package, who can make the difference.

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