County Championship 2021: Nottinghamshire Preview

What Happened Last Year?

Last year, like the years before, did not go well for Nottinghamshire. Nicknamed the Outlaws, the only thing this East Midlands county have outlawed is winning, as despite the white-ball glory, Notts have now gone since June 2018 without a win in the first-class arena.

However, that is not to say that last year's Bob Willis Trophy was a total disaster for Nottinghamshire. Despite two defeats and three draws, the cricket was improved.

They should have beaten Derbyshire, but allowed the local rivals to chase 365 in their fourth innings, and then were bowled out for 97 by Yorkshire, chasing just 188 to win.

In the drawn games, they had managed to make 472 against Lancashire, but this innings did involve a day of rain, so even when the Red Rose were bowled out for 173, a win was never likely. The derby at Leicester was relatively evenly poised before rain, Durham would have likley been defeated, had Notts' pursuit of 202 not been disrupted by (guess) rain!

So, yes another year without a first-class win. However, Notts were in most of these games! And, with Ben Slater, Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke and Tom Moores all making centuries, and a decent group bowling effort, with some more consistency, and winning belief, this year should be better!.

Key Player for 2021

At just, 26, Duckett is only just entering his prime as a cricketer.

But in his near eight year career, he has played 95 F/C games, and in all three formats for England.

Unlike for most, his 2020 was good! He made 394 runs, including two hundreds in the five F/C games, at an impressive average of 56.28. Lots of players in this Notts side are talented, but should Duckett find consistent F/C form in 2021, then he will help Notts no end.

Should Trent Bridge spin this year (ha, good joke), but should it, then Matt Carter will also be a valuable player for Notts. In his three BWT games last year, he was arguably the pick of the bowlers, with 11 wickets coming at 23.9, with the economy of just 1.76.

England hopeful

There is just the answer to this, and I'm sure you've already guessed it. Yep, Haseeb Hameed.

Still only 24, and with cracks appearing in England's top order (again!), Hameed, who in November 2016 made 219 across three tests in India, more runs than any English player, bar Joe Root, achieved on the tour just finished.

However, his F/C average is just 31.16, and after his three Test matches, he never found county form, with barren years in 2017, 2018 and 2019, before Lancashire released him.

Yet, he found a small return to form with the new home of Trent Bridge last year, and although his average of 38.85 didn't set the world alight, three half-centuries is a promising start. Hopefully, in a full season, Hameed can go big, get lots of runs, and get England on notice.

It's also worth keeping an eye on 24 year-old pace bowler Zak Chappell, who was Nottinghamshire's leading wicket-taker in the BWT last year, with his new ball bowling proving impressive.

The target for this year?

Nottinghamshire will face new competition in the re-structured County Championship, which you can read here.

The Outlaws will be in a group with Derbyshire, Essex, Durham, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

But the simple target is to win a game.

Notts made good progress last year, and competed well, but now need to get a win on the board, and go from there. The opening game is against Durham, who are a very weak side, and Nottinghamshire should fancy their chances. Win that, and suddenly, they might get some confidence and play some good cricket.

Essex may be a challenge to far, but they should feel as though they have a chance against the rest, and may sneak into the top two, although this could be an optimistic bridge too many.

Overseas players are yet to be confirmed.

Predicted Finish: 3rd in Group One.


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