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Left Duck - Season Preview

13 April 18 words: Gav Squires

2017 was a great year for Nottinghamshire Cricket Club as they were promoted in the County Championship and won both the 50-over cup and the Twenty20 competition. As the new season starts (or not thanks to the rain) we have a look at what 2018 might have in store.

Nottinghamshire Lords

Notts celebrate winning the 50-over cup last year at Lords

2017 really couldn't have gone any better for Notts but there have been some major changes at the club since the season ended. Firstly, they have named Steven Mullaney as the new club captain, replacing the retiring Chris Read. It will be a lot to take on for someone who last season was opening the batting and more often than not was the first change bowler. He's also going to have to make do with a lot of experience that has left the club - Michael Lumb and Greg Smith have both retired, Brendon Taylor has returned to Zimbabwe and Brett Hutton has moved across the border to Derbyshire for more regular cricket.

On the other hand, Chris Nash has joined, bringing with him a wealth of experience and someone that head coach Peter Moores knows from their time together at Sussex. He's an opening batter and he'll be putting pressure on Jake Libby who didn't exactly rip up any trees in the second division. Alternatively, it give Mullaney some flexibility if the skipper wants to bat lower down the order. The all-rounder Paul Coughlin has also joined from Durham but he looks like he's going to miss the start of the season due to injury.

Notts are also going to be missing Alex Hales for the County Championship - he had already announced that he wouldn't be playing any red ball cricket before being picked up as injury cover for the Indian Premier League. Neither James Pattinson, who was excellent, nor Cheteshwar Pujara, whose Notts' form was diametrically opposite to his awesome international form, are returning. However, Notts have managed to snaffle New Zealander Ross Taylor as the club's overseas player. He's an exciting batter and it should be a joy to see him play at Trent Bridge.

On the bowling side, Jake Ball will have a lot to prove after a disappointing Ashes tour and Mark Footit will be hoping to prove his fitness. Behind the stumps, Tom Moores is set to step into the gloves of Chris Read. While Read was great at digging Notts out of several holes, Moores seems to bat in T20 like he's trying to hit every ball for six. Hopefully, he can calm down a little in the longer format. He'll also have to cope with the fact that his dad is the head coach. As we saw around the corner at The City Ground when the Cloughs were there, it can be especially awkward if things aren't going well. Read was also one of the best wicketkeepers that have ever played the game and hopefully Moores won't have to suffer too many grumbles each time a catch goes down.

With a good start, the team should be good enough to stay up in the County Championship and then they can look at the limited over competitions for a bit of glory this season, especially with the 50-over final moving to Trent Bridge for the next five years.

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