“A damn close run thing,” said Samit Patel about the Battle of Waterloo. Or was it the Duke of Wellington about Nottinghamshire reaching the Royal London One Day Cup final? Or maybe I’m confused.
Whilst few would argue that Nottinghamshire have put in enough outstanding team and individual performances to justify their appearance at Lord’s this Saturday in the Royal London One Day Cup final, it is also true that they have needed a few helpings of good fortune along the way.
The East Midlands club got off to a dodgy start when they lost their first two games in the North Group, including defeat by Worcestershire under the Duckworth/Lewis rules despite a hundred by Michael Lumb.
They then won three in a row to get their campaign off the ground. At home against Durham, an Alex Hales hundred looked to have ensured another win. But Paul Collingwood and wicket keeper Stuart Poynter added 53 in just 4.4 overs to snatch a four wicket win and stifle Nottinghamshire’s momentum.
It looked likely that Notts would need to win their last two Group games to qualify. Against Lancashire, Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney delivered with a blistering stand of 181 in 28.3 overs to achieve a win with four overs to spare.
And so to the final round with all to play for.
If Lancashire beat Durham (as they did) and Notts lost to Northants, Notts would be most likely be out. When Northants were 79-0 off the first 14.4 overs, Notts were up against it. Then, luckily, it rained and Notts gained a point for a non-result, scraping through with nine points from their eight games.
And so to the record breaking quarter final against Somerset at Taunton. Brendan Taylor scored a magnificent 154 off just 97 balls as Notts ran up 429 off their 50 overs.
When Somerset reached 364-9 with less than seven overs to go, it looked all over. But Jamie Overton and Tim Groenewald added 41 and reduced the target to 25 off two overs. Then Stuart Broad ran out Overton and Notts had sneaked home by just 24 runs.
In the semi-final at Chelmsford, the Nottinghamshire bowlers suffered more punishment, conceding 370 off their 50 overs.
The response of the batsmen was magnificent. Steven Mullaney hit 111 off 75 balls, Samit Patel finished not out on 122 and Notts were home with just three balls to spare.
It is pretty clear where the strengths of the Nottinghamshire team lies. Four players (Patel, Mullaney, Root and Taylor) are averaging over 60.
Whilst Stuart Broad and James Pattinson have been reasonably economical, and have taken 10 and 12 wickets respectively, others have been less successful. Luke Fletcher, Jake Ball, Samit Patel, Harry Gurney and Mullaney have all conceded more than six an over.
Top of the batting statistics is Samit Patel will 532 runs at an average of 76. He could well say, as the Duke of Wellington said of Waterloo, “I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there. “