With Trent Bridge still being re-developed, Nottinghamshire made their return to the County Championship 1st division with three away games.
County Championship - Lancashire at Old Trafford 13/04-16/04
A Friday the 13th in Manchester could only mean one thing - rain and so Nottinghamshire had to wait until the Saturday to start the match and give debuts to Chris Nash and Ross Taylor. With clouds overhead and moisture in the wicket, Notts elected to field first and Jake Ball showed no ill-effects from his Ashes nightmare over the winter to claim five wickets as Lancashire were bowled out for 158. In reply, some middling scores from new skipper Steven Mullaney (28), Chris Nash (28), Riki Wessels (44) and Tom Moores (38) saw Notts post 222. Lancashire's opening pair of England internationals Keaton Jennings and Haseeb Hameed put on 49 runs but then Harry Gurney hit his straps, taking six wickets for 25 runs. Jake Ball took 4-14 and Lancs could only score 73 all out. Needing just 10 runs to win the match, Notts made hard work of it, losing four wickets including both debutants for ducks but a win is a win.
County Championship - Yorkshire at Headingly 20/04-23/04
A week later, Nottinghamshire were the other side of the Pennines and again they decided to bowl first. Jake Ball (2-51) and Harry Gurney (3-46, which included his 500th wicket for Nottinghamshire) continued their good form but the pick of the bowlers was Luke Fletcher who took four for 47, including the wicket of former Notts player Cheteshwar Pujara. Some lover order hitting from Andy Hodd, whose 62 featured 8 fours saw the Yorkies post 256. In reply, Ross Taylor hit his first 50 for the county but even though Riki Wessels scored 40 and Jake Ball got 44 not out, Notts limped to 188. Former England internationals Gary Balance (82) and Tim Bresnan (68 not out) were the basis for Yorkshire scoring 334 despite another 3 wickets for Ball and Gurney and 2 more for Fletcher. That left Nottinghamshire needed an improbable 403 runs to win. Ben Coad took 6 wickets as Yorkshire won the match by 164 runs, although Tom Moores hit an impressive 40 not out.
County Championship - Worcestershire at New Road 27/04-30/04
Stuart Broad returned to the side for the trip to Worcester, replacing Luke Wood and, after two days of rain, he took a wicket in his first over. Jake Ball had already taken a wicket in the preceding over as Worcestershire fell to 3-3. Ball finished with two wickets, Broad three and Luke Fletcher took 5-27 meaning that Worcestershire could only score 110. In reply, Ross Taylor hit another 50 and Tom Moores managed his highest first class score of 43 as Notts scored 300-9 declared. Jake Ball took another wicket in his first over, finishing with another five wicket haul as the home side were blasted out for 149 runs and Notts won by an innings and 41 runs.
So, a great start to the season for Nottinghamshire, winning two out of their first three games. They return to Trent Bridge to play Hampshire in their next match hoping to keep the good run going.
Duck of the Month: A tie between the two debutants Chris Nash and Ross Taylor (who has scored an impressive 146 runs for the county so far) as they both scored ducks as Notts struggled to reach 10 runs against Lancashire.
Player of the Month: Shout outs to Tom Moores (122 runs at 40.07 and 15 catches) and Luke Fletcher for taking 14 wickets on his return from a sickening head injury half-way through last season. Player of the month has to be Jake Ball though. After a winter where he was injured, rushed back and then because of that didn't play to his potential in Australia, he's done well to come back with 21 wickets including two five-fors, playing himself back into the frame for England's summer test matches.