Hampshire at Edgbaston - T20 Blast - Saturday 1 September
Notts headed off to finals day in Birmingham as the pick of the domestic teams in white ball cricket this year. A semi-final against Hampshire saw Notts being asked to bat first and with 48 from Riki Wessels from 27 balls, 35 from Samit Patel and skipper Dan Christian hitting 24 from just 17 balls, a total of 169-7 looked about par, compared to the scores in the Warwickshire-Glamorgan semi-final that preceded it. Samit Patel removed dangerman Shahid "Boom Boom" Afridi first ball but Hants were looking pretty comfortable at 120-4 in the 15th over. Steven Mullaney then removed James Vince for 56, which was crucial as he looked like he was going to guide them to victory. Two balls later, Samit Patel ran-out the experienced Michael Carberry and from there Hampshire collapsed to 146 all out.
Warwickshire at Edgbaston - T20 Blast - Saturday 1 September
Playing the hosts in the final, Notts were again invited to bat first and a brilliant opening spell from England international Chris Woakes (3-29) saw Notts reduced to 30-3 in the fifth over. Up stepped Brendon Taylor (65) and Samit Patel (64 not out) before Dan Christian realised that he'd been scoring too slowly in the semi-final, this time hitting 24 from a mere 8 balls as the Outlaws posted 190-4. Then it was the Harry Gurney show, bowling some brilliant slower balls as he took 4-17. On top of his 3-19 in the semi-final, that saw him setting a new record for number of wickets taken on finals day. He took the key Warwickshire wicket of Sam Hain (72) and with Jake Ball also bowling well (2-26), Nottinghamshire won by 22 runs to lift their second trophy of the season.
Worcestershire at Trent Bridge - County Championship Tuesday 5 - Friday 8 September
It was a case of "after the Lord Mayor's show" as fellow promotion hopefuls Worcestershire arrived in Nottingham. Batting first, Notts missed out on scoring any bonus batting points, being dismissed for 193 with Jake Libby top scoring with 34. There were a few more scores in the mid-20s, which is fine in the T20 but no-one managed to dig in as Ed Barnard took 4-71. Notts started well in reply, reducing Worcestershire to 89-6 but they let them off the hook and 47 for Ben Cox and 55 for Ed Barnard took them to a total of 243. Batting again, Notts slumped to 43-4 before Riki Wessels (60) and Jake Libby (44) put on 92 for the 5th wicket. 38 from Chris Read in his final innings at Trent Bridge saw Notts limp to 275 all out, leaving the visitors needing 226 to win. Early wickets were needed but didn't come and Daryl Mitchell scored an unbeaten 139 as Worcestershire cruised to an eight-wicket win, which blew the title race wide open. It was just lucky for Nottinghamshire that they only had to play them once this season.
Northamptonshire at The County Ground - County Championship - Tuesday 19 - Friday 22 September
Notts entered another crucial game, knowing that a draw would ensure promotion. With Brendon Taylor having returned home to Zimbabwe and with Alex Hales on international duty, Billy Root and Tom Moores came into the side for their first county championship appearances of the season. Notts elected to bowl first and with three wickets for Brett Hutton and 4 for Luke Wood, they shot Northants out for 194. Rory Kleinveldt top scored with 43 and if Notts were annoyed by his skill with the bat, it was nothing compared to what was to come once he had the ball in his hand. He took 9-65 as Notts slumped to 151 all out. Nightwatchman Luke Wood top scored with 44 in a scorecard that looked reminiscent of last season. An early wicket saw the hosts at 4-1 but a stand of 147 from Robert Newton (53) and Richard Levi (115) for the second wicket really took the game away. Some lower order hitting from Kleinveldt (48 from 41 balls) left Notts needing 314 to win. The fact that bowler Luke Wood (44) was the pick of the batters again shows just how far away Notts were as they lost by 124 runs. Jake Libby (42) didn't disgrace himself but Kleinveldt was the main man again for Northants, taking 4-33.
Sussex at Hove - County Championship - Monday 25 - Thursday 28 September
So, off to the south coast for the last game of the season where a win would guarantee promotion and as would a draw with enough bonus points. Fielding first, it was all looking good as Sussex slipped to 107-5. Then it all went pear-shaped. 55 from Delray Rawlins, 146 from Michael Burgess, 147 from Chris Jordan and 72 from Jofra Archer (no relation to Jeffrey) took the hosts to 565. For the third championship game in a row, Notts looked short of a bowler and while it's not easy with Stuart Broad being rested for England duty in the winter and Jake Ball on stand-by for the ODI games, it's a definite problem. Specialist spinner Matthew Carter, playing his first game of the season, only bowled 8 overs, showing either someone misread the pitch when selecting the side or there's just a paucity of options. In the end, Billy Root was the pick of the bowlers, taking his first county championship wickets as he finished with 3-29. Of course, Notts then managed to find some demons in the pitch, collapsing to 65-5. Fortunately, Chris Read had one final captain's innings in him for his final game as he put on 242 with Billy Root for the sixth wicket. Read's 124 took him past 15,000 first class runs for Nottinghamshire while Root's 132 was his maiden first class century. Some good batting from the tail, including an improbable 42 not out from Harry Gurney saw Notts take sufficient batting points for a draw to take them up, and avoid the follow on. Bad weather overnight saw the game peter out to a draw, although Luke Wells hit 103 on the final day as Matthew Carter took four wickets. All of which meant that Notts finished just 5 points ahead of Northamptonshire, who were docked five points when they were defeated at Trent Bridge earlier in the season due to a slow over rate. Without that deduction, Northamptonshire would have gone up due to winning more games.
Phew! After a great season in the county championship, Notts nearly threw it away at the last minute. Injuries, retirements and international call-ups meant that they limped over the line in the end but promotion is promotion and planning for the top flight has to begin now. On the other hand, a great performance in the T20 competition saw the Outlaws lift their second trophy of the season.
Stay tuned for our full review of the season, coming soon.