Last year, Nottinghamshire wondered where their next red-ball win was coming. A couple of misfiring campaigns had seen Notts sink to depths unimaginable with the talent they had at their disposal.
With Covid necessitating a change in format to how the County Championship was run, Notts charged towards an improbable third-place finish last season. The difference in form was dramatic; without the burden of expectation for once, Notts could go about their business.
Built on the runs of Ben Slater (837 @ 39.85) and Joe Clarke (760 @ 36.19), Notts looked far more secure and Haseeb Hameed found himself back in the England side. Ben Duckett contributed valuable runs and allrounders Lydon James (five fifties) and Liam Patterson-White started to show some promise as the season progressed.
This summer, the battery of experienced seam bowlers available to Notts is a frighting prospect. Stuart Broad’s axing by England for the West Indies tour suggests that Broad will have something still to prove on the international scene, and will be hoping to do this as early as possible in the season. Along with Broad Dane Paterson, the South African international, returns, as does Australian James Pattinson and that is before you mention the likes of Luke Fletcher, one of the county scenes’ most consistent wicket-takers.
Ins: James Pattinson
Outs: Peter Trego (retired), Tom Barber (released), Ben Compton (Kent)
Surrounded by a pace attack that has international caps by the bucket full, Luke Fletcher again remains one of the key players for Nottinghamshire. Fletcher bagged 66 wickets in the championship last season. A tall bowler who consistently bowls a tight line, there will be few batting line-ups looking forward to facing Fletcher.
One to watch
Calvin Harrison played against Notts in preseason for Oxford UCCE last year, where he impressed the Notts coaching staff enough to gain a trial. At 23, it was probably the last chance for the leg-spinner to gain a county contract, and he made sure he took it as he became one of the leading wicket-takers in the Blast.
It will be harder for Harrison to break into the red-ball team, but the youngster has taken every challenge quickly. With Liam Patterson-White the current spin bowler of choice in the Championship side, it will be a good duel to see who will be there at the business end of the season.
Dane Paterson, Dan Christian, James Pattinson
All three overseas players are well known to the Trent Bridge faithful; Paterson grew into his role through the summer, taking a healthy 54 wickets.
Dan Christian has led the Outlaws Blast side for a while now. So he will have been disappointed as anyone to have been dumped out at the quarter-final stage. Christian, a bits and pieces allrounder, will be itching to get Notts back on track and another trophy to add to his t20 collection.
Pattinson joins for another spell at Trent Bridge, he should be a good influence on the bowling attack, and if he stays fit, then Notts should be looking at first division cricket next year.
How will they fare?
How often do you see a team like Nottinghamshire predicted to win everything in sight, only to fall flat and get nowhere near winning anything? It is the curse of the preview. Something has gone wrong if Notts do not gain promotion from division two of the County Championship. However, they have the bowling reverses to survive the biggest injury crisis and the batting to get them over the line.
A better outing in the Vitality Blast is a must, and a finals day appearance should be a minimum. However, Alex Hales plays a significant role in making sure the Outlaws are in the mix and with winter of relative rest for the globetrotting star, there is a good chance that the East Midlands side will be in the mix on finals day again.
That isn’t to say Notts are a one player side in the shorter form of the game; Joe Clarke, Ben Duckett and Samit Patel will be eager to rack up the runs; with young players such as Calvin Harrison keen to carry on the form that saw him become one of the standout performers of last year’s Blast. So it looks like a rosy time on the banks of the Trent.
Opening fixture: 7-10 April 2021 vs Sussex at 1st Central County Ground, Hove, County Championship
Season Odds (Skybet):
County Championship – 6/4
RLODC – 8/1
T20 Blast – 7/1