When you’re used to tasting Champagne and caviar, it’s very hard to go back to drinking Irn Bru and eating pies. Sadly for Nottinghamshire this season has been more Fray Bentos than Beluga, despite reaching the quarterfinals of both white ball competitions, they did so by the skin of their teeth and then lost them comfortably.
Throw in finishing sixth in the Specsavers County Championship, one place above the relegation places and level on points with relegated Lancashire, and it’s clear it was not a season of popping corks and spreading on crackers but rather a season of throwing a pie in the oven and washing it down with the juice of Scottish girders.
The season did not start well with their marquee signing of the winter Paul Coughlin – signed from Durham to add a seam bowling all-round option to their middle order – getting injured on England Lions duty in before a domestic ball had been bowled. He did manage to play three T20 games, but only as a batsman, and Nottinghamshire will be hoping to see a return on their signing this season.
The other big name signing, Chris Nash from Sussex, started the season reasonably well scoring one century and two fifties in the championship, and two more fifties in the RLODC before succumbing to injury and missing the whole T20 campaign and five of the County Championship fixtures with a damaged shoulder. He may find it difficult to win his place back in 2019, however, with the signings of Ben Slater, Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke bolstering the Nottinghamshire batting line up.
While it may have been a disappointing season for the Outlaws it was not a season lacking excitement and tension for their players and supporters, with qualification and relegation permutations being checked and in-play until the last game of each competition. On each occasion the outcomes gave the Outlaws’ fans what they wanted at that time: beating Derbyshire in the RLODC, Yorkshire in the T20 Blast to secure quarter final places and Lancashire failing to gain enough bonus points against Hampshire to surpass Nottinghamshire’s point total and relegate the men from Trent Bridge.
Had Lancashire scored 27 more runs against Hampshire in their first innings in the last round of matches, then the Outlaws would be planning trips to Cardiff, Bristol and Leicester this season and not their usual division one venues.
After a season as poor as Nottinghamshire’s was, there were always going to be changes for next season. And so it is no surprise to see comings and goings aplenty with Riki Wessels, Will Fraine, Billy Root and Ben Kitt all heading out of the door and Zak Chappell, an extremely promising all-rounder signed from Leicestershire, joining the previously mentioned batting reinforcements in the home changing room next season. Do not be surprised if more departures and arrivals around Trent Bridge hit the news over the off season and, come April next year when The Outlaws take to the field for the first time, expect a very different side to be on show.
Whatever side does take the field though, they will be expected to return to the Champagne and Caviar days and leave the tins of pop and pies behind.
SSCC: 6th, Division One
T20 Blast: Quarter Finals,
RLODC: Quarter Finals
SSCC: Jake Libby 662 @ 26.48 1x 100, 4 x 50
T20 Blast: Tom Moores 445 @ 34.23
RLODC: Steven Mullaney 406 @ 58.00 1 x100 3 x 50
SSCC: Harry Gurney 42 @ 27.07
T20 Blast: Harry Gurney 20 @ 19.35 econ 7.64
RLODC: Jake Ball 14 @ 27.93
Player of the Season
Harry Gurney, remember him? He played for England a while back and was widely regarded as an excellent white ball bowler. There’s a reason for that and it’s that is he is an excellent white ball bowler. He showed that yet again this season, taking 29 wickets across the two white ball competitions and in doing so helped Notts reach the quarter final stages of both competitions. He is also an excellent red ball bowler, and again we saw that this year as he took 42 wickets at a shade over 27 runs a time.
In a season when Notts struggled to reach the same heights they previously have, due mainly to their big players lacking consistency, Gurney delivered for whichever captain he was playing for and helped the Outlaws achieve a touch of respectability to their season. And, if nothing else, when a supporter gave Gurney abuse about having an ugly bowling action his response: “Ugly action, fit wife, swings and roundabouts” wins my vote for player of the year everytime!
At the end of last season, if Nottinghamshire CCC were a stage musical you may have heard them singing a song entitled “How do you solve a problem like Chris Read’s retirement?” Well the simple answer is you give a young exciting wicketkeeper a chance, which is exactly what they did and Tom Moores went down like a spoon full of sugar for the Nottinghamshire supporters this season.
In a season which could be described as Les Miserables for the Club, Moores rise to prominence was a real bright spot for their fans. Scoring over 1200 runs across all formats, he gave his side a real counter attacking option in red ball cricket and impetus at the top of the order in white ball cricket. He had big shoes, or big gloves, to fill but he managed it admirably. When a side doesn’t miss a player as big as Read, you know you have had a good season.
Could have done better
I love Samit Patel. For those of you who have read my match previews for Nottinghamshire, you will know it is almost an unhealthy obsession I have with the slow left-armed and middle order maestro. However, due to the high standards and performances that Patel normally has, this season he will be disappointed with his figures and will be looking for more from himself next season. He conceded more runs off his bowling that he scored with the bat, taking 19 wickets at nearly 50 and failed to score a century in the championship.
Need to work on
If Notts are going to improve next season then their batting must be the area they focus on. Not one player got close to the magical 1000 first class run mark – in fact no one even touched 700 runs. They have to become more consistent in their top order, and the moves they have already made to bring in Ben Slater, Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke should look to add this depth and consistency to their line up. All of these players play across all formats and can score quickly, and therefore should be able to give to their bowlers the required time to bowl out sides.
Notts will be looking to secure their overseas players early, and if one of them isn’t Dan Christian they will need to appoint a new T20 captain as well. Last year the club signed overseas batsmen in Kraigg Brathwaite and Ross Taylor, but with the signings they have made, a bowler is more likely this year. Although they have the experience of Samit Patel and youth of Matt Carter, it may be a high quality spin bowler they look to acquire. Last year they had Ish Sodhi on their books, and he impressed during his time there, however he may well be unavailable due to world cup commitments with New Zealand for a large part of the season.