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Opera North - The Little Greats

Notts County Cricket: April Round-Up

4 May 17 words: Gav Squires

Our Gav gives us the cricket rundown of the month past...

Leicestershire at Grace Road - County Championship Friday 7 - Monday 10 April

The first game of the season started with a bit of an oddity as hosts Leicestershire were docked 16 points due to repeated on-field infringements.

It didn't seem to bother Notts too much as they elected to bowl, and Stuart Broad took a wicket in the first over of the match. New overseas signing James Pattinson took two early wickets, as did Harry Gurney, as Leicestershire were reduced to 101-5. This was the kind of situation where Nottinghamshire allowed their opponents to recover too often last season but Stuart Board, making a rare appearance in the County Championship, took another wicket soon after lunch, which was also captain Chris Read's 1,000th catch in first class cricket.

From 116-6, Notts did take their foot off the throat a little though and the Leicestershire tail wagged to get them to 251 all out. In reply, Greg Smith fell cheaply and Alex Hales, batting at 4, could only make 7.

Riki Wessels and Samit Patel put together a bit of a stand but they fell in successive overs to leave Nottinghamshire 150-6. Chris Read soon fell and Notts were teetering at 167-7, memories of last season looming large. Stuart Broad (52) and James Pattinson (82 not out) steadied the ship with a 100 partnership as Notts ended their innings 78 runs ahead.

James Pattinson then took control in Leicestershire's second innings, taking 5-29. Supported by Luke Fletcher who took 4-35, Leicestershire were blasted out for just 81. Needing just four runs to win the game, Greg Smith smote the tenth ball of the innings into the crowd to seal Nottinghamshire's victory by ten wickets inside three days.


Durham at Chester-le-Street - County Championship Friday 14 - Monday 17 April

After bowling just 21 overs in the first game of the season (finishing with a match total of 4-53), Stuart Broad was keen to play up at Durham. Unfortunately for him, it had already been decided by England that he would be rested for the match as part of an effort to manage his workload with seven test matches to come in the summer. Fortunately for Notts, their other England seamer Jake Ball was available, after England asked him to sit out the season's opener.

Ball was soon back into the swing of things, taking a wicket in his second over, finishing with 3-36. James Pattinson continued where he left out in the first game with another three wickets. While bowling Durham out for just 162 looks great, Notts will feel they let them off the hook a little, especially as they were 71-7 at one stage.

Their annoyance was compounded when they lost Greg Smith, Jake Libby and Alex Hales cheaply to find themselves 7-3. Samit Patel and Michael Lumb steadied the ship before Luke Fletcher made 92. He was run out as he slipped over, just eight runs short of his maiden first class century. Gutted. Pattinson seems to be doing a pretty good impression of an all-rounder at the minute, which bodes well for Notts but maybe not so much for England in the winter. He made 59 and Nottinghamshire had a healthy 142 run lead after the first innings.

At one point, it looked like the only things keeping Notts from victory would be intermittent rain and Keaton Jennings, who carried his bat to a superb 102 not out in a total of 250. The bowlers shared the wickets around with Ball taking 3, Pattinson 2, Fletcher 2 and Harry Gurney 2. A target of 109 to win should be pretty straightforward but after last season, you'd half-expect them to "Notts it up" and make hard work of it. Fortunately, the 2017 team are a little more resilient as 60 not out from Greg Smith led them to a nine wicket victory.


 

Sussex at Trent Bridge - County Championship Friday 21 - Monday 24 April

Broad was back in the side for the first home game of the season as Sussex visited Trent Bridge. The visitors elected to field and after Notts had reached a reasonable 83-2, they suffered a mini collapse to 88-5 as Alex Hales (45), Jake Libby (21) and Michael Lumb (1) all fell within 8 balls. This was the sort of situation last year where Chris Read would have made a nuggety 30 and they'd have struggled to 150.

In this game, Riki Wessels stepped up and scored his best ever first class score, 202 not out from just 177 balls. He has support all the way down, especially from Stuart Broad who scored 57 and Chris Read, who made a nuggety 30, as Nottinghamshire managed to score 447. That looked even more impressive as two wickets from James Pattinson and one from Broad reduced Sussex to 11-3 at the close of day one.

The next day saw Notts continue where they left off, consistently taking wickets as Sussex slumped to 103-8. A brief wag of the tail took them to 155 but they were soon invited to bat again. Broad took a wicket in the first over of the second innings and another in the fifth leaving the visitors reeling at 10-2. A few Sussex batters offered some resistance, but it was really only a matter of time for Notts.

Broad, Pattinson and Fletcher all took three wickets as the home side won by an innings and 88 runs, inside two days.


 

Worcestershire at New Road - One Day Cup Thursday 27 April

Then, due to the vagaries of the fixture list, it was time to start the domestic 50-over competition with a trip to Worcester. Batting first, the Outlaws scored an impressive 273-6, with opener Michael Lumb scoring 104, supported by 40s from Samit Patel and Billy Root.

Then the rain came and the hosts were set a revised Duckworth-Lewis target of 168 from 22 overs. Even Nottinghamshire's impressive looking bowling attack, featuring four England internationals (Broad, Ball, Gurney and Patel) couldn't quite get Notts over the line. The game was looking pretty even until Ross Whiteley scored 41 from just 19 balls as the Rapids won by five wickets with 12 balls to spare.


 

Yorkshire at Trent Bridge - One Day Cup Saturday 29 April

It was battle of the Roots at Trent Bridge as England captain Joe came into town to face up to little brother Billy.

The visitors had an impressive looking line-up with 8 England internationals in the side. The Notts team was just one behind though, with seven current or former England players. A reasonable start saw the home team 150-4 at the start of the 34th over.

From there, Notts just completely collapsed, limping along to a poor 185 all out. That was never going to be enough against such a strong team. Australian Peter Handscomb made 46 and Joe Root scored 75 not out, including hitting the winnings runs, a six, off the bowling of his brother.


 

April Round-Up

A tremendous start in the County Championship really emphasised just how good Nottinghamshire's bowling attack is when everybody is available. Unfortunately, unless the Australian Cricket Board are feeling generous then James Pattinson has played his last red-ball game for the club.

Jake Ball will be playing for England in the Champions Trophy soon and Stuart Broad will only be allowed to play infrequently to keep him fresh for test matches later in the summer and the Ashes tour in the winter.

The batting still hasn't clicked yet, as demonstrated against Yorkshire, but Steven Mullaney still has to come back from his injury so that will hopefully help. Having said that, there's no shame to lose to that Yorkshire side, and they were unlucky with the weather against Worcestershire (although the shame of losing to a team nicknamed the "Rapids" should really sting).

The key for this season was always getting promoted in the County Championship though, and three wins from three is as good as it gets, especially as they only won once all of last season. Definitely an optimistic beginning.

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