2017 will live long in the memory for every Nottinghamshire fan. A pair of white-ball titles coupled with promotion to Division One of the County Championship marked a near-perfect year for the Trent Bridge club.
2018 presents a new challenge, however, for Peter Moores’ side who will surely prioritise survival in Division One given their white-ball success last campaign. Alex Hales is one who will not be prioritising red-ball cricket after the 29-year-old opted to sign a white-ball only contract.
This comes only a year after the former England Test opener voiced his ambition to bat at number four for England in Test cricket and finished the 2017 campaign with an average of 47.11 in the Championship; including a score of 218.
The unforgiving ruling that 25% of teams in Division One are relegated means that many will be predicting Notts for the drop. The Outlaws will be without their long-standing captain, Chris Read, for the first time in 20 seasons. Likewise, Michael Lumb was forced to join his former captain in retirement through injury at the age of 38. Brendan Taylor has also returned to play for Zimbabwe.
However, Peter Moores has made two shrewd signings in Chris Nash and Paul Coughlin. At 34, Nash has proved he still has plenty to give by his move up from Sussex; and Coughlin was one of the hottest properties on the market during the winter following the continuing exodus from Durham.
A rejuvenated Mark Footitt explains why Ross Taylor has been signed as an overseas player for the first half of the season instead of James Pattinson, who is still recovering from a long-term injury.
New club captain Steven Mullaney will have a challenge on his hands to keep his side in the first division but will be buoyed by the return of Luke Fletcher after surviving a potentially career-ending head injury last season.
In: Paul Coughlin (Durham), Chris Nash (Sussex)
Out: Chris Read (retired), Brett Hutton (Northants), Michael Lumb (retired), Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe)
Overseas: Ross Taylor (April-June), Dan Christian (t20), Ish Sodhi (t20)
Replacing Chris Read will be a significant challenge for Notts this season. While replacing his captaincy is a sizeable task; replacing him as a gloveman is a challenge that awaits Tom Moores.
The 21-year-old has a massive workload ahead having only played seven first-class matches previously – most of which were for Lancashire while on loan in 2016. Moores, son of head coach Peter, will be expected to contribute with the bat and the left-hander has already proved himself to be a handy batsman.
Fan favourite, Dan Christian returns for another T20 campaign and is joined by New Zealand international Ish Sodhi. Ross Taylor will provide plenty of strength to the batting ranks until the end of June but Notts are yet to sign anyone for the second half of the season.
How They’ll Fare
The Outlaws are more than capable of retaining both of their white-ball titles but perhaps their return to Division One will take its toll. This writer is predicting another finals day appearance, a second 50-over title in two years, but also a second relegation in three years.
SSCC Div One v Lancashire, Friday 13th April at Emirates Old Trafford
Season Odds (Skybet):
SS County Championship – 6/1
Royal London One-Day Cup – 8/1
Vitality T20 Blast – 7/1