When Nottinghamshire spent the winter restructuring their squad and strengthening the batting department, signing two of the brightest young batting talents in the country in Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke along with Ben Slater and Zak Chappell, relegation was not on their minds.
However relegation from Division One was what came to fruition, failing to win a game, drawing only four and securing only 16 batting bonus points – eight fewer than the next lowest county.
Where their red ball form was catastrophic, their white ball form was exemplary in the group stages, firstly finishing top of the North Group in the Royal London One-Day Cup, winning six of their eight games, only losing once and securing a home semi final.
The T20 group stages also saw an impressive return, finishing second in the table, again winning six games and securing a home quarter-final. They went on the win that and secure a second semi-final of the season. The semi-final of both white ball competitions is where it ended for Notts this season though, meaning not only did they get relegated in red-ball cricket, but they also finished trophy-less. For a county used to winning trophies, this will have come as quite a shock and disappointment.
Equally shocking for a lot of Notts fans was one of their stalwarts and favourites Samit Patel being sent out on loan for Championship Cricket, plying his trade for Glamorgan.
Many will be wondering if he will remain at Trent Bridge for next season. If he is not, then the Nottinghamshire changing room will be a very different place.
How different is yet to be seen, following such a poor season by their standards, it may see reinforcements sent for. Many of their players had poor seasons and underperformed, if they return to form then new bodies may well not be needed as they look to return to the top flight and also secure a white-ball trophy. One factor they may also have to deal with is The Hundred, the big name players on their books may well get drafted and put extra strain on their squad, how they cope with that may well effect their ability to win those white-ball trophies.
SSCC: 8th Division One (Relegated)
T20 Blast: Semi Final
RLODC: Semi Final (1st in North Group)
SSCC: Stephen Mullaney 694 @28.92
T20 Blast: Alex Hales 418 @ 38.00
RLODC: Joe Clarke 340 @ 42.50
SSCC: Luke Fletcher 35 wickets @ 26.46
T20 Blast: Harry Gurney 22 wickets at 18.00 Economy 9.00
RLODC: Luke Fletcher 17 Wickets @ 21.65 Economy 5.83
Player of the Season
In a side brimming with international players such as Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Samit Patel, James Pattinson and Ravi Ashwin, only the latter managed to take over 20 wickets. But the honour goes to Luke Fletcher, one of Notts’ unsung heroes.
He took 35 wickets in the Championship this season, more than anyone else in the side. He also took more wickets in the One-Day Cup than anyone else for Notts with 17. Fletcher is invaluable to whichever captain he is playing for and the club and next season Nottinghamshire will be keen to see the same from Fletcher.
Everyone loves seeing a young player come through into their ranks and a young bowler for some reason is even better. Notts have seen Liam Patterson-White do just that this season. He has played five first class games and taken 20 wickets at an average of 21 this season, with only Luke Fletcher and Ravi Ashwin taking more. He has not taken to the field in coloured clothing for his county yet, but when he does, one would imagine his slow left arm orthodox bowling will be equally as effective, his economy rate of 3.11 surely can translate to white ball cricket too.
Could have done better
Last season Tom Moores was breakthrough player of the year and while he performed reasonably well in white-ball cricket, scoring 499 runs at a decent average. However an average of 14.04 and not one score of 50 or more is disappointing to say the least in first-class Cricket. He is a player of undoubted talent but now he must translate this to first-class cricket too. Last season he scored over 1200 runs across all formats, this season he is 500 runs below that total. Nottinghamshire will be hoping that those 500 or so runs can return to the Notts scorebook and in doing so help them return to Division One and Vitality Blast Finals Day.
Need to work on
Nottinghamshire simply did not score enough runs in first-class cricket this season, none of their expensive winter signings really had a season to write home about. Duckett, Slater and Clarke all averaged under 32. Of all the players to play more than five matches, Clarke has the highest average at 31.05. If they are to compete in first-class cricket they must work on their top order batting, setting targets for their bowers to defend. Their white-ball form was good this season and they will be hoping to recreate that next season.
During the off-season, Peter Moores and Mick Newell will be assessing the squad and looking where it needs strengthening, which players can be brought through and potentially which players will be let go, It will be interesting to see if Patel is still a Nottinghamshire player come the start of next season. They will be looking for an immediate return to Division One and will be hoping to erase the hurt of two semi-final losses in white-ball cricket.