STEVEN Mullaney and Lyndon James continued their 2021 domination of Essex as the Nottinghamshire middle-order duo clocked half-centuries on day one at the County Ground.

Captain Mullaney and all-rounder James had put on 123 in the reverse fixture at Trent Bridge during an innings victory, before collecting 117 together for the fourth wicket.

They helped Notts recover from an effective 48 for four, after Joe Clarke had retired hurt, with Mullaney eventually scoring 55 and James 54, his fourth score over 50 this campaign.

Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle was the pick of the attack, as he returned three for 76, while Clarke returned to smash a 78-ball fifty, as the visitors reached 248 for six by the close.

In warm conditions, Mullaney won the toss and elected to bat on a docile wicket, although the new ball chopped off the top-order.

Peter Siddle picked up the opening two scalps as Ben Compton loosely fended outside his off-stump to Alastair Cook at first slip and Ben Duckett was adjudged lbw.

Shane Snater, who took a career-best seven-for against Notts earlier in the season, shuffled the score to 48 for three when Ben Slater was leg before.

Notts’ morning got worse when Clarke was forced to retired after being struck on the forearm by Sam Cook.

But Essex’s advantage was dragged back by Mullaney and James’ slow and steady run accruing.

Mullaney received two early lives – on four and six – when he was dropped at first slip by Alastair Cook and extra cover by a diving Nick Browne.

They ticked away a dozy wicketless afternoon, which saw Paul Walter ordered out the attack after two beamers, to bring up their hundred partnership in 255 balls.

James reached his fifty first, in 145 balls, before Mullaney joined him at the milestone soon after, 10 balls quicker.

But with the dying embers of the old ball both fell in quick succession to first slip catches to end their vigil, James off Snater and Mullaney drifting at Siddle.

Sam Cook produced a breath-taking over to set-up Tom Moores with the new ball before clipping the top of off stump.

Clarke had returned after the fall of James and returned to counter-attack, taking a particular liking to Siddle, as he became the third Notts batsman to a half-century.

He reached close on 57 with his stand with Liam Patterson-White unbroken on 58.