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Nottinghamshire remain on course for an immediate return to top flight cricket after defeating Northamptonshire by 163 runs on the final day of their Specsavers County Championship fixture at Trent Bridge.

The Division Two leaders needed just over an hour to take the final five Northants wickets.

Samit Patel closed out the contest, finishing with three for 17 and Jake Ball picked up three for 86.

Resuming on 167 for four, after they had added an unbroken 45 for the fifth wicket in the gloomy conditions of the previous evening, Alex Wakely and Josh Cobb were parted in just the second over of the day.

Wakely, having advanced his score to 37, pushed firmly at Brett Hutton and nicked firmly through to Chris Read. The same combination accounted for Rory Kleinveldt four overs later, although the South African all-rounder, who made 12, was swishing vigorously towards extra cover.

Read’s third catch of the morning saw off Cobb, for 38, with Ball adding to the two wickets he grabbed on the third day.

Azharullah decided to make the most of a rare opportunity to throw the bat and hit five fours in making 23 but he then miscued Samit Patel high to Cheteshwar Pujara at cover.

Ben Sanderson, batting with a hamstring injury and using Rob Keogh as his runner, made an enterprising 16 not out but the innings ended when Richard Gleeson, who scored 21, clubbed Patel into the safe hands of Riki Wessels at mid off.

Peter Moores (Notts’ Head Coach)

“Really pleased to get it done and get the win in the bank because all four-day wins are hard-fought. It looks like it’s a very easy win but it was much tighter than that but throughout the game there were periods where we played some really good cricket.”

“The conditions on the first morning meant that there was moisture in the pitch and I felt they bowled really well, Kleinveldt bowled beautifully without much luck but Steven Mullaney and Jake Libby got stuck and saw the first hour of the game through. Riki Wessels played beautifully, especially in the second innings, so we are very pleased.

“Other sides at the top keep winning, obviously Sussex won yesterday and Worestershire are doing well, so it makes next week’s game against them into a really big game. Because we’ve been competing onthree fronts we haven’t really had any games this season that haven’t been big games, so we’ll tackle that after Saturday’s Finals Day and we’ll prepare for it properly.”

“With three games to go, it’s nice when you’ve had so many people influence games and that has been one of the most pleasing things for me. We haven’t looked for a draw yet, we’re always looking to win games and we’ll carry that philosophy through to the end.”

David Ripley (Northants Head Coach)

“I thought this would be a good bench-mark for us because they are the best team in the league and they have an extremely string batting line-up, so it was a good test but obviously we came up short. I think the margin is the biggest disappointment because we were well-beaten. I think Riki Wessels was the big difference, with his two individual contributions. Without that it might have been tighter but the disappointment is over our first innings batting. We challenged our batters to put their hands up and put some runs on the board and they haven’t done that.

“On the injury front, Adam Rossington has a broken thumb but Alex Wakeley’s x-ray has come back clear, so hopefully he’ll be ok for the next game. Ben Sanderson’s hamstring injury means he will be out; he’s having a scan tomorrow but you kind of fear the worst, so two of them might be out for the rest of the season. We’ll cling to some hope that they might be back but it looks unlikely.”

(on losing points for a tardy over-rate)

“That’s not good, we’ve just spoken about it as a group. We talk about it far too much and we need some actions. That’s going to hit us because we are going to lose points from this game and go back with minus points. In the past we’ve not been promoted out of this division by just one point, so every point is vital and we’ve just lobbed four or five away.”

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