After a huge 2017, 2018 seemed to have so much promise for Nottinghamshire. Sadly, that promise came to very little. The Outlaws were without Chris Read and it proved a disappointing season for local favourite, Samit Patel.
The side did reach the quarterfinals of both limited overs competitions, but just like many pre-2017 Notts Outlaws, they got no further. In fact, in both cases they were very soundly beaten.
In more positive news, the stepping forward of Tom Moores is a sign of bright things to come, one hopes. Peter Moores’ son more than adequately stepped into Chris Read’s shoes, or gloves if you will and proved himself pretty capable with the bat as well.
Over the winter, Notts have made excellent overseas signings in the old favourite Dan Christian for the T20 and James Pattinson for the RLODC and part of the SSCC. In true Nottinghamshire form, they have been mining other East Midlands counties for young talent and have picked themselves up a few new bodies.
Batting was an issue last season and Ben Slater, who originally joined the side on loan from Derbyshire, should continue to provide stability at the top of the order, while Ben Duckett is also very capable of adding valuable runs up top. Duckett’s experience with Northants at the height of their T20 success will be important to the Outlaws as they try to repeat their own success of 2017.
Zak Chappell is a talented young bowler from Leicestershire who will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stuart Broad, moving to Nottingham with the hope of making himself known to the England selectors. Broad himself is expected to be around in the early part of the season, which can only be positive for Chappell. Joe Clarke, who the club have apparently had on their shopping list for a while, is a batsman who has the potential to fill the middle order gap left by Riki Wessels.
Add in highly experienced names such as Steven Mullaney, Jake Ball, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney and maybe even the old Samit Patel – as well as the finally-fit Paul Coughlin – and Nottinghamshire might just manage to justify being favourites in both of the shorter formats, and hopefully work on rebuilding their red ball reputation.
Ins: Ben Slater (Derbyshire), Ben Duckett (Northants), Zak Chappell (Leicestershire), Joe Clarke (Worcestershire)
Outs: Matt Milnes (Kent), Ben Kitt (released), Will Fraine (Yorkshire), Ricky Wessels (Worcestershire), Billy Root (Glamorgan)
Key Player: He might not be the flashiest of players, but Steven Mullaneyhas quietly built himself a solid county career over the eight or so years he has been at Trent Bridge. Carrying the respect of his fellow players and the coaching staff, Mullaney was the perfect choice to replace Chris Read as County Championship and 50 over captain. A steady handed and cool headed batsman, Mullaney is flexible on where he plays in the order, has excellent skills with the ball and is outstanding in the field. His pre-season work has already been profitable with both bat and ball, and the experience he brings to the side should prove invaluable to young players.
Player to Watch: Young Tom Moores started showing his colours for the Outlaws last season, just when they needed him the most – right after the retirement of Chris Read. A solid left-handed batsman in all formats, Moores also takes the gloves now that the big man is gone. It can’t have been an easy role to fill, yet the 22 year old seemed to rise to the challenge. The 2018 season saw him emerge as a genuinely talented player, confident with the bat and athletic behind the stumps.
Overseas Signings: Notts favourites James Pattinson and Dan Christian return to the side again this year, with Christian once again taking on the T20 captaincy. The gruff Australian needs no introduction to anyone who enjoys T20 cricket around the world, and is a known match winner for the Outlaws. Christian’s compatriot, Pattinson, is also not new to Trent Bridge, having been with the side in 2017. The 28 year old is a bowler who can amass incredible speeds and, perhaps more importantly, is passionate about the game.
How they’ll fare: On paper, Nottinghamshire look to be an incredible team and should do well. However, this is not the first season they’ve had an impressive line up but, 2017 aside, the trophy cabinet isn’t exactly overflowing of late. Nevertheless, Sky bet have them as favourites for white ball competitions and the return of Dan Christian has got to be positive. Having had such a close shave with relegation in the SSCC last year, though, one would imagine the Outlaws’ focus would be on the longer game and their end of season shopping would suggest that to be true. Will it be enough, though? It should see them finish comfortably in Division One, certainly, and they’ll probably be making another visit to Finals Day.
Opening Fixture v. Yorkshire at Trent Bridge
SS County Championship Division 1: 7/1
Royal London One-Day Cup: Favourites 6/1
Vitality Twenty20 Blast: 7/1 joint favourites with Sussex