Finally, a Win for Notts

After an all round dominant performance against Derbyshire granted Notts their first Championship win for 1,043 days, I take a look at their recent record, and the future...

On the back of a tight-fought promotion from Division Two in 2017, Nottinghamshire CCC looked to be having a decent 2018 season in Division One of the County Championship, winning three of the first four games.

They won just one more game in the entire season, and narrowly avoided relegation.

In 2019, Notts were not as lucky. Not that they deserved any luck. Of the fourteen games, they lost ten, managing draws in the other four. They were relegated with just 67 points.

With the Covid pandemic massively reducing the cricket that counties could play in 2020, Notts had just five games to show some improvement in the Bob Willis Trophy. They should have got a win.

They allowed Derbyshire to chase 365 in the fourth innings in the first game.

Then they were bowled out for 97 chasing 188 against Yorkshire.

Draws followed against Lancashire, Leicestershire and Durham, with Durham nearly beaten, rain the obstacle on this occasion.

It was progress for Notts, albeit not that elusive win.

But against Durham in the opening round this year, it looked as though Notts were sliding back into their old ways. Durham were allowed to recover from 5-2, and then 196-7 to get to 330. In response, Notts found themselves 85-6. It was Tom Moores' 96*, and Brett Hutton with 51, that made sure the deficit was only 63.

With Durham reduced to 22-3 and later 78-4, Notts were making a great recovery. Until David Bedingham and Ned Eckersley combined for 254, with Bedingham 180* and Eckersley 113*, as Notts were set 396 to win, or a day to survive.

And, thanks to Ben Slater's 73, with young Lyndon James (watch out for him) making his maiden fifty, with Steven Mullaney also passing 50.

I initially wrote this piece a few weeks ago, because, against Warwickshire, the looming win seemed to arrive.

I had it drafted out, and then went to the pub with a friend, to get a drink on draught!

And I had reason to be confident. The visitors were set 333 for victory, and reduced to 184-6, which was effectively 7, given Dom Sibley's injury meant he would not bat again.

Notts couldn't mess up again, could they?

But, they did. It was a very good effort, with Stuart Broad bowling a particularly hostile spell, but Notts could not get through Tim Bresnan and Olly Stone. Although the latter was removed eventually, it was just 36 needed at that stage, as Warwickshire won, and Notts, again, did not.

It appeared to be going from bad to worse, as away at Worcestershire, Notts were following on, having made 276, in reply to Worcs' 436. Thankfully, both openers Ben Slater and Haseeb Hameed made unbeaten 114s, as Notts survived, but the win proved a long way off.

And having collapsed from 194-2 to 256 all out against Derbyshire, it looked as though the nightmare would continue.

Fortunately, there was serious fight with the ball, as Derbyshire were bowled out for 105, with veteran superstar Luke Fletcher taking 5-for.

An aggressive Notts performance saw them get 318 in 70.4 overs, setting their hosts 470 to win. This had to be it, right?

And yes, for once, it was!

Thanks to some more impressive seam bowling, Notts bowled Derbyshire out for 159 in a session, winning by 310 runs, to end the nearly three year wait for a Championship victory!

Star performers included Slater (107), Joe Clarke (66 and 53), Hameed (94) and Ben Duckett (87), as the top order fired. With the ball, Stuart Broad took two and then another four, South African Dane Paterson picked up two and then three, with Fletcher finishing with seven in the match.

The penultimate wicket saw Sam Conners, trying to hit some runs against Broad, top edge a pull down to long-leg, where Paterson stuck out a hand, and took the ball just inside the rope. It was a brilliant grab, with Broad's face evoking that image from that Stokes catch in the 2015 Ashes.

So, having last won in June of 2018 (against Essex at Chelmsford, with Ross Taylor's 146 quite useful!), Notts' long win drought is finally over.

Next up, Essex and Worcestershire are hosted, with the second of those matches seeing spectators allowed in (I hope to be one!).

These will not be easy fixtures, but Notts have been playing decent cricket for a while, and have hopefully now finally found a winning mentality, so perhaps they can push on.

Given that Notts have been in good positions in quite a few games this year and in the BWT, knowing they can win should be a major asset. The mentality should have shifted, and Notts should win again.

Fingers crossed this is the confidence boost they need, becuase the talent is there.

Haseeb Hameed, the much-spoken about opening talent has enjoyed a resurgence at Notts, having made the move from West to East Midlands. He's made two hundreds and two fifties in four games this season, and hopefully he'll be able to go on to big things for the county.

His opening partner is Ben Slater, who has two hundreds this season, to go with two BWT centuries last year (including one for Leicestershire), gives a decent starting partnership for Notts.

In the middle order, Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke are both exceptionally talented batters. Duckett is a short but powerful left-hander, and Clarke oozes class when he gets his batting right. When consistent (which is the challenge), these two should be huge assets.

Up-and-coming Lyndon James has great all-round potential, with good batting and pace bowling, and the experienced Steven Mullaney captains, providing offerings with both bat and ball.

Liam Patterson-White is a spinning all-rounder, who has made an impressive start to his career as well. And Tom Moores is good behind the stumps, with his batting having also improved in recent years, even with Chris Read's gloves difficult to replace.

Then, with a bowling attack that includes England's awesome Stuart Broad, and with Dane Paterson, who has international experience for South Africa making a good start, Notts have two very good quicks.

Along with them is Zak Chappell, an impressive young seamer, who is turning into a key member of the attack. Luke Fletcher remains a key option as well, as proved against Derbyshire.

It is then a wonder, that this side, with it's obvious abilities, has struggled for so long. The batting resembles one of those cartoon moments where a clumsy character enters a china shop, and chaos ensues: it's fragile.

And despite the bowling often being good, sides are rarely dominated with the ball, and often are allowed to recover after early losses.

And in Peter Moores, the county have a competent coach, despite what the Facebook comments often spout. He's won the championship as a coach (with Sussex and Lancashire), and while his two stints with England were not brilliant, he does know how to win, having

taken Notts to wins in the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2017,and the t20 Blast in 2017 and 2020.

So, having now finally broken the over 34 month gap without a first-class win, Notts have the chance to push on, with a talented squad, and in the knowledge they can win.

And I hope they do, because as soon as we're allowed, I'll be at Trent Bridge to watch them!

1 comment

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