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Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club 2016 Rundown

10 April 17 words: Gav Squires

To say that 2016 was a mixed season for Nottinghamshire is a bit of an insult to things that usually come mixed, like a bag of nuts with only a couple of cashews...

The season was off to a bad start before a ball was even bowled when batsman James Taylor was forced to retire from cricket due to a heart condition. While it's unlikely that he would actually have played much for Notts, as he would have been on England duty for much of the season, the shock reverberated around the club. Not that it showed in the first game of the season as Surrey came to Trent Bridge.

Surrey elected to put the home side in but Nottinghamshire made 446, with Steven Mullaney hitting a century. Notts then shared the wickets around, forcing Surrey to follow on. Jake Ball took five wickets in the second innings, leaving Nottinghamshire needing 169 to win. After reaching 72 without loss, a middle order collapse saw them sneak home by three wickets. That would be the only county championship game that Notts won all season.

Jake Ball continued his great early season form, which would see him called up by England, taking six wickets in the next game away at Lancashire. However, Nottinghamshire's struggles with the bat, which would continue all season, saw them lose out by eight wickets, with only Chris Read making fifty.

The start of May saw a game that Notts should have won. Seven more wickets for Jake Ball, including the prize scalp of Joe Root in both innings, and six wickets for Harry Gurney saw Yorkshire holding out with just one wicket remaining when the game was declared a draw. A rain-affect draw against Middlesex was followed by the visit of Warwickshire.

Notts were on top on day one, with Warwickshire struggling at 161-7 but centuries from Chris Woakes and Keith Barker saw them post 373. For one of the few times in the season, Nottinghamshire managed to post a decent first innings total, with Michael Lumb's 108 being the basis for a total of 383. Luke Fletcher and Samit Patel took four wickets apiece in Warwickshire's second innings, leaving a modest looking 227 to win. Samit Patel scored 124 but he received next to no support as Notts were all out for 173.

A chance for revenge came just two days later as Nottinghamshire faced off against Warwickshire – or Birmingham Bears, as they're called – in the first game of the T20 Blast competition. Riki Wessels opened the batting and his 52 set the scene for a competitive looking 179-7. However, Warwickshire managed to nick the win with just two balls to spare.

It was a trip to the south coast and a return to four-day action next. Harry Gurney was again on form with the ball, taking four wickets in Hampshire's first innings and five in the second. However, Nottinghamshire again struggled with the bat, limping to 189 in the first innings before finally losing by 69 runs.

Notts finally managed a decent performance with the bat in the next game as Durham visited Trent Bridge. Brendon Taylor scored 114 and Riki Wessels scored 159, not out as part of 534 all-out. Durham scored 447 in reply but rain prevented Notts from pressing home their advantage, although Brendon Taylor did become the first Notts' batter to score a century in each innings for thirteen years as he posted 105 not out.

Again, a quirk of the fixture list gave Notts a quick chance of revenge in the T20. Chasing 179 to win the game Nottinhgamshire collapsed to just 112 all out. However, it would be their last defeat in the group stages of the twenty over game. Lancashire then visited the Outlaws in the T20 Blast. A daunting 185 was set for victory but Michael Lumb (53) and Riki Wessels (58) shared an opening 100 partnership but Notts stumbled over the line with just two wickets and two balls left.

Two days later saw the beginning of the Royal London Cup, the 50-over competition. Lumb and Wessels continued where they left off with an opening stand of 342, with 184 for Lumb and 146 for Wessels. That was the foundation of a mammoth 445 but Northamptonshire gave Notts a little scare before losing by twenty runs.

In the next 50-over game, Notts scored another big score - 415, again anchored by the openers as Lumb (133) and Wessels (76) shared an opening stand of 178. Warwickshire were then shot out for 379 as Notts continued their perfect start to the Royal London Cup campaign.

Rain impacted the next four games. The T20 game against Derbyshire was abandoned without a ball being bowled while the 50-over game at Lancashire was called off after 33 overs of the first innings. When the cricket resumed up at Durham in the Royal London Cup, Michael Lumb was still in form, hitting 105 out of 274 scored in a rain-reduced 42 overs.

Harry Gurney took five wickets in Durham's reply but Durham still won by two wickets via the Duckworth-Lewis method. Two nights later another T20 game, this time up in Yorkshire, was called off before a ball was even bowled.

When the British "summer" finally let up, Notts chased down 167 in a T20 game against Worcestershire with over an over spare. Dan Christian top scored with 53 not out. Unfortunately for Notts, it was then back to the county championship and a crushing defeat against Surrey at The Oval. Losing by 228 runs, the only highlights were Jake Ball's four wickets in the first innings and Brendon Taylor scoring 68 in the second.

The Jekyll and Hyde personality reared its head again during a convincing victory over Derbyshire in the T20 Blast. Four wickets for Harry Gurney restricted Derbyshire to just 114, and Notts comfortably won by seven wickets with more than five overs to spare.

The weather saved Notts in their next county championship match as Warwickshire skittled them for just 152. Jake Ball took four more wickets but Warwickshire posted 311 in reply. Rain also prevented any play in the next scheduled T20 game at home to Durham.

South Africa's Imran Tahir arrived as overseas player in time for the next game, against Lancashire at Trent Bridge. He took four wickets in the first innings as Lancashire posted a sub-par 276. Notts replied with 474 and it was a proper team effort with the top nine batters all scoring at least thirty runs, including fifties for Jake Libby, Samit Patel and Riki Wessels.

Stuart Broad, on a rare outing for Notts, took two wickets in the second innings to go with three in the first, but a stubborn century by Haseeb Hameed was part of a rear-guard action that saw Lancashire leave with a draw.

July then saw a run of four straight games in Nottinghamshire's favourite competition, the T20 Blast. An away game at Northamptonshire saw Tahir continue his impressive start to his 2016 Notts season by taking three wickets as the home side were all out for 122. Dan Christian's half-century then saw Notts home by six wickets.

Worcestershire were put to the sword in the next game at Trent Bridge. Batting first and scoring just 124, a quick-fire eighty not out from opener Riki Wessels saw the Outlaws claim a nine-wicket win in just 12.2 overs.

A visit to Grace Road to play Leicestershire was abandoned with no play but a home game against Yorkshire was one of the best games of the season. Yorkshire batted first an scored an impressive 160-7 and then claimed a couple of early wickets. But 58 from Samit Patel and 35 from just 27 balls from Chris Read saw Notts home with just two balls to spare.

Then it was back to the county championship with Somerset the visitors to Trent Bridge. For once Notts started well, with Steven Mullaney (165) and Jake Libby (90) putting on 196 for the first wicket. Notts didn't really take advantage of such a great start although a total of 401 was better than was managed in a lot of games.

Imran Tahir then took seven wickets, including that of Marcus Trescothick for 218 as Somerset scored 437 in reply. Even though they were only behind by 36 runs, Notts flopped to just 135 and Somerset easily wrapped up a ten-wicket victory. Notts then beat Warwickshire at Edgbaston in the T20 Blast, managing to impressively chase down a target of 173 with five balls and six wickets in hand. Greg Smith top scored with 52 not out.

Another victory, in the 50-over competition, at home against Derbyshire, followed. Notts batted first and scored 340-7 with another century (114) for Riki Wessels. Derbyshire fell well short, losing by 65 runs. After winning three out of their first five games in the competition, that was to be the club's final victory in the Royal London competition in 2016.

A see-saw game at Scarborough against Yorkshire could have gone either way. Notts scored 251-9 in their 50-overs, Steven Mullaney hitting 89 not out. But 95 not out from Tim Bresnan dragged Yorkshire over the line with just two balls of their innings remaining.

Nottinghamshire were still in form in the T20 though, as they demonstrated against Leicestershire at Trent Bridge. The Foxes scored 170-4 in just eighteen overs, but a magnificent 69 not out from Michael Lumb and 54 not out from Dan Christian saw an eight-wicket Duckworth-Lewis victory.

Two days later, Leicestershire gained revenge, winning in the 50-over cup. Leicestershire batted first, scoring 279 in their 50-overs before Notts fell an agonising eight runs short in the run chase. A rain-interrupted game at home to Worcestershire in the same competition saw Notts score 284-8, with 50s from Riki Wessels (50), Samit Patel (55) and Dan Christian (54) but Worcestershire still won via Duckworth-Lewis.

Back to the T20 and Essex were the visitors to fortress Trent Bridge in the competition's quarter finals. Greg Smith top scored with 50 in a total of 162-7. Essex seemed to be cruising to victory but Steven Mulaney ran-out Jesse Ryder and from there Essex collapsed with Samit Patel taking four wickets as Notts won by 39 runs.

Hampshire then visited in the four-day game. Despite a battling seventy not out from Chris Read in Nottinghamshire's first innings, they could still only score 245 in reply to 319. Hants then scored 393-7 before asking Notts to bat again. Steven Mullaney was impressive scoring 137 but apart from a 58 from Brendan Taylor, there wasn't really much support and Notts terrible run in the county championship continued, losing by 176 runs.

At least there was T20 finals day to look forward to, where Notts faced off against Northamptonshire for a place in the grand final. Notts had tinkered with the side, bringing England internationals Alex Hales and Stuart Broad into the side. Broad bowled two average overs as Northants scored 161-8 from their innings with Ben Duckett top scoring. Alex Hales fared even worse with a seven-ball duck as Notts fell eight runs short.

A somewhat demoralised Notts headed up to Yorkshire with four county championship games left to haul themselves off the bottom of the table and avoid relegation. Things looked reasonably promising as they restricted Yorkshire to just 282 runs.

However, they could only score 94 in reply, and Steven Mullaney, Tom Moores and Brendan Taylor were the only players to reach double figures. Yorkshire then firmly applied their boot to Nottinghamshire's neck, notching up 263-4 before Tim Bresnan took five wickets as Notts capitulated for 146, losing by 305 runs.

Notts then headed up to Durham, the team that they were chasing in their attempt to avoid relegation. Harry Gurney took six wickets as the hosts were skittled for 244. 144 from Jake Libby and 82 from Michael Lumb then built some hope for Notts as they managed to build a first innings' lead of 69. Unfortunately for Notts some excellent Durham batting in the second innings and persistent rain meant they had to settle for a draw.

Middlesex, who were top at the time and who would go on to win the championship, came to Trent Bridge in another must-win game for Notts. Batting first the hosts scored 241, mainly around Samit Patel's century. Five wickets for Jake Ball saw Middlesex all out for 247, the game looking pretty even at that stage.

Steven Mullaney scored 64 as Notts set 235 for victory. Three early wickets for Jake Ball saw Middlesex wobble at 25-3 but their middle-order quality told and they managed to win by five wickets condemning Notts to relegation.

The final match, away at Somerset, was the season in microcosm – Jake Ball took six wickets as Somerset scored 365 in their first innings. Notts were then all out for just 138. Somerset then put the game beyond Notts, scoring 313-5 before Notts batted slightly better second time around but still losing. Billy Root top scored with 66 not out in a total of 215 as the season ended with a 325 run defeat.

Even Durham's financial meltdown and subsequent penalty wasn't enough to prevent Nottinghamshire from being relegated. The story of the season really was poor batting performances, often in the first innings, leaving just too much to do.

While in the T20 games, players were stepping up to the plate, making things happen and winning games, the same cannot be said of the four-day game. Having said that, some of the performances by the bowlers were very good throughout the season but at times they just didn't quite click as a unit.

So, what can Notts expect from the 2017 season? Well, former England head coach Peter Moores in now in charge of the first team. Jake Ball had a great season and he should continue to improve as long as he isn't away carrying drinks for England for too much of the summer.

Harry Gurney also had a decent season with the ball in 2016, and should continue to pick up wickets in the second division of the county championship. Steven Mullaney scored over 1,000 championship runs and the weaker bowling attacks in the second division should be to his liking.

Alex Hales will also be back playing county cricket for the first part of the season at least. He’ll be determined to score big to try and force himself back into England test reckoning and the way he goes at the ball, he looks a much better bet batting at four rather than opening.

In short, Notts must be looking at promotion in the four-day game. They probably slightly overachieved in the T20 last year, but with full houses cheering them on at Trent Bridge, another good run can't be out of the question.

Whatever happens, the club has to try and live up to the standards set by club captain Chris Read who is retiring at the end of the season after nineteen years with the club.


Nottinghamshire Cricket Fixtures 2017

 

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