Vitality County Championship Division One – Match Preview: Nottinghamshire v Essex

Vitality County Championship Division One – Match Preview: Nottinghamshire v Essex

After a long winter, and a veritable deluge of white ball competitions around the world, cricket returns to its traditional roots, with the more sedate rhythms of the County Championship returning for another season. Round one brings us an interesting contest in Division One from Trent Bridge as Nottinghamshire host title hopefuls Essex.

The hosts have undergone a period of transition, with a change of red ball captain as club legend Steven Mullany has stepped down into a player-coach role primarily focussed on the second XI, and he has been replaced by England test batter Haseeb Hameed. Other club stalwarts such as Samit Patel, and Jake Ball have moved onto pastures new at Derbyshire and Somerset respectively, while Stuart Broad retired in a blaze of glory last season. They have been replaced by a trio of signings from Worcestershire in the shape of batter Jack Haynes, and quick bowlers Dillon Pennington and Josh Tongue. Together with the likes of Dane Paterson, Brett Hutton, and spinner Liam Patterson-White they possess a bowling attack that will test many a county batting unit.

The batting has historically been an area of weakness, but the promotion of Hameed to the captaincy may very well bring out the best in him as he seeks another shot at England honours. Similar could be said of Joe Clarke, perennially on the fringes of England selection for a variety of reasons. In Ben Slater and Jack Haynes, they also have a couple of batters with potential to make big runs, particularly with the dimensions at Trent Bridge often making it a high scoring ground if a batter can get in.

For Essex, they will also be moving on from the departure of a couple of senior players after Sir Alistair Cook’s retirement and Dan Lawrence’s move to Surrey. They have been replaced by South African legend Dean Elgar, and Jordan Cox from Kent in a slightly new look top six. There was little other transfer business as they retain one of the strongest bowling attacks in the country in the shape of Simon Harmer, Sam Cook, and Jamie Porter, who will expect to dominate batting units in early season conditions.

In terms of team news, Notts will be missing overseas batter Will Young, who does not arrive until 19th April, but both sides should have full squads available to them with no injury news of note. In pre-season the batters found form with almost all of the expected top six making fifties. All of the ex-Worcestershire trio came through unscathed and are expected to make their red ball debuts in this round.

For Essex, the top order did not enjoy the best time of it in pre-season, but they still retain plenty of quality. The club have high hopes for Feroze Khushi in red ball cricket, as he looks to be a modern ‘bazball’ style opener who can dictate games. Jordan Cox should slot into the middle order at four, with Matt Critchley hoping to build on his excellent 2023. Paul Walter has had a strong winter, and performed well in pre-season, so may go into the middle order. Who takes the gloves for Essex will be interesting; whether they stick with Adam Rossington, or hand them to Cox. There is also the option of Michael Pepper who performed well in pre-season, with a fifty against Middlesex. The bowling attack should pick itself in what will be a high-quality line up.

Key Players

For Notts, Haseeb Hameed will have a point to prove at the top of the order after a disappointing 2023. Captaincy often has a positive impact on a player, especially in the early days. As a result, I would expect that he will have a strong 2024, and if Notts are to perform well this season, strong top order starts are crucial. It will also be interesting to see how Josh Tongue performs in his new surroundings, a strong start possibly leading to more time in England colours this summer than Notts’.

The visitors will be looking to their high-quality seam attack to make inroads, alongside the erstwhile Simon Harmer. The combination ensures that they will always be competitive. The batting was often bailed out by all-rounder Matt Critchley, who held the middle order together with almost 1000 runs last season. He is a seriously underrated cricketer who has flown under the radar, and has proven his worth to Essex.

Team news:

Essex squad: tbc

Nottinghamshire squad: tbc

Weather and conditions:

The weather in March has been especially wet, so may affect how the early season pitches perform. Trent Bridge is known to help seam bowling so it may be a difficult early season test for batters on both sides. Day one looks like it may be rain affected, along with days three and four, although day two looks drier but cloudy.

Date:  5th – 8th April 2024

Time: 11am

Ground: Trent Bridge, Nottingham


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.