”I want to put things right.”
Those are the words of head coach, Peter Moores, following a disastrous 2019 campaign that saw Nottinghamshire emphatically relegated from Division One of the County Championship. The 57-year-old signed on for another two years as head coach following the season’s end, despite some members at Trent Bridge calling for an end to his tenure.
Such reaction is a measure of how dismal Moores’ side was during 2019, given many had tipped them for the title at the beginning of the season. Matches were lost by over one hundred runs on six occasions, and by an innings twice. Overseas signing Ravi Ashwin finished the season at the top of the batting averages and no batsman passed 700 runs for the campaign.
Only one county was relegated from Division One, and Notts finished the campaign 64 points behind seventh-place Warwickshire who endured a difficult season themselves.
The Outlaws enjoyed another solid white-ball campaign without returning any silverware. A strong showing in the One-Day Cup secured a home semi-final, but they lost out to eventual winners Somerset. An agonizing final ball defeat in the T20 Blast semi-final was a fitting end to a dismal season.
One would think much of the winter would’ve been dedicated to mentally resetting ahead of a fresh campaign. Joe Clarke, especially, endured a difficult year off the field as the 23-year-old was caught up in a rape allegation along with his former teammate, Alex Hepburn.
Clarke was cleared of any wrong-doing, but Hepburn was jailed for five years. Such a traumatic experience took its toll on one of England’s brightest prospects, and many will be hoping an extended period away from the game will be enough for Clarke to get his career back on track.
Notts recruited heavily ahead of the 2019 campaign but all failed to make a significant impact at their new county. Ben Slater and Ben Duckett began the season brightly before dwindling fast; while Zak Chappell failed to make any impact whatsoever, appearing on just a handful of occasions.
Moores has continued to recruit, however, adding Haseeb Hameed and Peter Trego to his ranks. Hameed was released from Lancashire following a continued poor run of form and the 23-year-old will be hoping to resurrect his career at Trent Bridge, similar to what Alex Lees has achieved at Durham following his departure from Yorkshire.
Hameed could’ve proved a major coup for a smaller county but the opportunity to work with Moores, who is widely regarded as the best coach on the circuit, may prove beneficial even if his playing opportunities are limited.
Trego is at a very different stage of his career and the 38-year-old will be delighted to have secured a two-year deal. The all-rounder will add depth to the white-ball sides.
Mohammad Abbas initially signed for the first nine Championship matches, although that deal will surely be in doubt given the current circumstances. No decision has been announced yet regarding the Pakistan international.
Dane Paterson is understood to have agreed to a Kolpak deal despite the uncertainty of the new season going ahead. Notts have been working all winter to secure a Kolpak player, as this will be the last season such deals are valid given the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Dwaine Pretorius was reportedly close to signing before being persuaded against the move by the acting director of South African cricket, Graeme Smith.
Smith has since been appointed to the role full time but he could not persuade Paterson to back out of the deal. Kolpak deals are very appealing to South Africans, as they have the potential to earn up to three times the amount playing county cricket then they would for their country. The 31-year-old has already ended his cricket career in his home country, but it will be hard to see a deal go through given the current global pandemic.
It was rumoured that all was not well off the field at Trent Bridge last year, as well as on it, and a couple of departures show an element of truth to this. Jake Libby and Luke Wood have both signed deals with Worcestershire and Lancashire, respectively, despite being given assurances of first-team cricket across all forms. Perhaps the opportunity to make a fresh start in a better environment proved a more lucrative offer for both players.
Paul Coughlin has also returned to his home county, Durham, after what was an injury-plagued time in the East Midlands.