Jake Ball took a hat-trick to leave title-chasing Middlesex teetering on 9/3 in to Nottinghamshire’s 241 all out at Trent Bridge.
Ball, who made his England Test debut against Pakistan in July, took the wickets of Sam Robson, Ollie Rayner and Nick Compton inside the first over.
Ball said: “It was all a bit of a blur to be honest. We said up in the dressing room that with a short period of time to bowl we have to go out and try and hit them hard and try and pick up a wicket but to take the three – and get the hat-trick – was extra special.
“It was a great catch from Steven Mullaney to get Robson out early and then to get the other two was even better.”
A century from Samit Patel, the 24th of his career, had helped Nottinghamshire post 241 on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Middlesex at Trent Bridge.
Patel scored his runs from 137 balls, having hit 16 fours and a six, but perished for exactly 100 three deliveries after reaching the landmark.
Steven Finn claimed Patel’s wicket, on his way to figures of four for 54.
Middlesex, the league leaders, were left with seven overs in which to bat but their hopes of a smooth ride to closing time were crushed by Jake Ball as he took a hat-trick in the opening over to leave the visitors on nine for three at stumps.
Whilst the loss of four crucial batting points increases the likelihood that Nottinghamshire will be playing their cricket in Division Two next season, the county had earlier announced that they have taken a decisive step in preparing for it.
During the morning session, whilst Notts were coming to terms with the early loss of Jake Libby after being asked to bat first, the Trent Bridge hierarchy announced that Peter Moores will be assuming responsibilities of first team affairs on a day-to-day basis next season.
Moores, former title winner with both Sussex and Lancashire, has been at Nottinghamshire since last June on a coaching consultancy basis. He will become Head Coach from 1st October, working alongside current director of cricket Mick Newell.
Table-toppers Middlesex have other concerns, of course, and they were decisive in opting to have a bowl on a cloudy September morning.
They made an early breakthrough, with Jake Libby nicking Tim Murtagh to first slip in only the third over of the day. The introduction of Steven Finn had an immediate effect as Tom Moores, son of Peter, was bowled through the gate for 16.
Finn then had Steven Mullaney smartly snaffled up by Ollie Rayner at second slip, leaving Michael Lumb and Brendan Taylor to repair the early damage with a stand of 31 either side of lunch.
Their partnership was broken in fortuitous circumstances by Ollie Rayner as Lumb punched a backfoot drive into the midriff of Nick Gubbins, standing a couple of paces away at silly point.
Taylor had played a couple of stylish drives off Toby Roland-Jones on his way to 30 but then fell to the same bowler. Squared up, the ball ballooned off an outside edge to point, where Gubbins slid in to take his second catch of the session.
The sixth wicket pairing put on 49 together, a stand broken when Chris Read chopped Rayner straight to point for 24.
Further wickets for Finn and Rayner left the home side eight down but Patel used the second new ball to his advantage, reaching his second hundred of the summer before clipping to deep square leg.
Ball, back on championship duty having not featured in any of the recent ODIs, made the most of his return to county duty.
The third ball of the opening Middlesex over saw Mullaney pouch Robson at second slip. Nightwatchman Rayner, whose career best score of 143 came on this ground in a similar role in 2012, perished to a full-pitched delivery which crunched into the front pad.
Nick Compton, after a lengthy delay, which saw one or two Notts’ fielders enquiring if he should, perhaps, be timed out, eventually made it to the middle.
Ball’s hat-trick delivery was straight and true, giving the 25-year old a place in the county’s record books as the first Nottinghamshire bowler to perform a home championship hat-trick since Paul Franks in 1997.