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Left Duck - August Review

3 September 20 words: Gav Squires

It's been a long time since Nottinghamshire reached August without losing any games of cricket. Of course, it helped that the season didn't start until August this year! Let's see how they got on in their four Bob Willis games and three T20 matches.

August 1st-4th - Bob Willis Trophy: Derbyshire at Trent Bridge 

The first game of the season saw Derbyshire take the short trip down Brian Clough Way. The home team featured three players making their County Championship debut (Haseeb Hameed, Peter Trego and Tom Barber) and another, in Joey Evison, playing just his second game. 

With Notts batting first, Hameed would get the first chance to impress and he scored 68 as he put on 111 for the first wicket with Chris Nash (59). A middle-order collapse was saved by Samit Patel who scored 63, a much-needed score after he ended last season on loan at Glamorgan due to his terrible form. Some good hitting by Jake Ball (34) and some good play by Evison (38) took Notts to a total of 324. 

It was a score they would probably have taken at the start of the day but after such a great start it felt a little under par. Ball started on fire in the Derbyshire innings though, taking three quick wickets to reduce the visitors to 26-3. From there, Leus du Plooy led a one-man rear guard, scoring 120 out of a total of 239.

A lead of 85 was good, but it felt like Notts had let Derbyshire off the hook a little, despite Evison taking 3-38. Batting for a second time, Notts lost Nash in the first over but Hameed batted well again for 52. Skipper Steven Mullaney hit a 48 and Patel continued his form from the first innings with 80. 

A total of 279 left Derbyshire needing an unlikely 365 for victory. Another quick wicket, this time a first Notts wicket for Peter Trego, saw Derbyshire slip to 33-1 but again Notts couldn't take any further advantage and the game went into the fourth day with every result still possible. 

The Derbyshire captain, Billy Godleman (86) and Wayne Madsen (43) put on 113 for the second wicket until the former was removed by Evison. Unfortunately, the bowler left the field injured in the same over. 

Eventually, it was Fynn Hudson-Prentice who took control of the game, hitting the winning runs off the penultimate ball of the day. Defeat was harsh on Jake Ball who bowled 34 overs in Derbyshire's second innings but, in the end, a lack of penetration in the bowling attack and a lack of killer instinct cost Notts as Derbyshire broke their record run chase against another county side. 


August 8th-11th - Bob Willis Trophy: Yorkshire at Trent Bridge 

Zak Chappell and Matthew Carter came into the side for Tom Barber and Joey Evison as Yorkshire rolled into town. Despite the visitors missing the bowler Ben Coad, they still had a strong looking team, which featured Jonny Bairstow in their ranks. 

With a wicket apiece for Ball and Carter and two for Chappell, Yorkshire were reduced to 44-4. Harry Brook (62) and Jordan Thompson (98) rescued the innings and they limped to 264 all out. Chris Nash was the pick of the bowlers, his part-time tweakers taking 3-20. Notts' reply stuttered to 55-3 before Joe Clarke (35), Steven Mullaney (50) and Peter Trego (39) rebuilt. 

Then it was time for the Tom Moores show as the wicketkeeper hit twelve 4s and three 6s on his way to a score of 106. A lead of 91 after the first innings put Notts in another good position. Notts would suffer the same misfortune as in the first game as they lost a bowler to injury (Jake Ball this time) after taking an early wicket.

Runs for Adam Lyth (50), Bairstow (75) and Jonathan Tattersall (53) and wickets for Chappell (4-59), Carter (4-76) and Patel (2-57) saw a good battle between bat and ball, with Yorkshire reaching 278. That would leave Notts needing just 188 to win the game. Surely a formality? 

Not when Notts are involved. Joe Clark was the only batter who faced more than 25 balls as a precession of wickets saw Yorkshire comfortably win by 90 runs. Thompson followed up his 98 in the first innings with 3-6 as Notts collapsed to another loss, their last four-day win now being way back in June 2018. Even Steven Mullaney matching the club record of seven catches in a match, held by Arthur Jones and Bill Voce, was of little succour.  


August 15th-18th - Bob Willis trophy: Lancashire at Trent Bridge 

The game against Lancashire was moved from Old Trafford due to a breakout of Covid in Manchester. Notts recalled Ben Slater from on loan at Leicestershire and he couldn't wait to face the Lancashire bowlers again after scoring a century against them in the first game of the season. He was at it again as he put on 178 for the second wicket with Ben Duckett, with both Ben's reaching three figures. 50s for Clarke (57) and Mullaney (67) saw Notts post a really impressive total of 472. 

The only fly in the ointment was losing an entire day of the game to bad weather. The new ball partnership of Trego (3-33) and Chappell (3-48) sliced their way through the Lancashire line-up with Barber (3-42) removing top scorer Steven Croft (59) and the tail enders (including former Notts player Luke Wood). 

Notts were more than happy to ask Lancashire to follow on but after losing more time to the weather and with Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies putting on an unbeaten 120 for the first wicket, the game ended as a draw. 

It's easy to make the call in hindsight, but Notts could have declared at the start of the third day to try and take advantage of a pitch that had spent a day sweating under the covers. It might be the sort of risk that Notts need to take to break that streak. 


August 22nd-25th - Bob Willis Trophy: Leicestershire at Grace Road 

Notts first away game of the season saw them head off to Leicester, making another change to the bowling attack with Lyndon James following up his debut against Essex last season. Notts bowled first and Trego took three quick wickets as the hosts stumbled to 25-4. A brief fightback from Tom Taylor (57) and Ben Mike (51 not out) saw Leicestershire reach 222. Notts reached stumps at 48 without loss - a good day's work. 

Slater (86) and Hameed (87) put on 200 for the first wicket before Notts declared their innings on 373-8 on the third day. An early wicket for Trego put Notts on top but by the end of the day, Leicestershire had a lead for the loss of only three wickets. 

There was still a chance that Notts could win if they could take quick wickets on the last day but rain kept both teams in the pavilion until after lunch.  Leicestershire skipper Colin Ackerman scored 62 and 21-year old wicketkeeper Harry Swindells hit his maiden half-century before the skippers shook hands on a draw. 

Two losses and two draws from four games doesn't look great but Notts had first innings leads in all four matches. There's clearly something a bit off and if this form continues in the four-day game then surely some questions have to be asked about Peter Moores as coach and maybe even Steven Mullaney as captain. 

Fortunately, Notts got to park the longer game for the start of the T20 Blast. There was bad news for T20 specialist Harry Gurney, who would miss the entire season due to injury. 


August 27th - T20 Blast: Yorkshire at Headingley 

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled. 


August 29th - T20 Blast: Durham at Chester le Street 

Luke Fletcher made his first appearance of the season, having overcome injury, and Jake Ball returned to the team for the visit to Durham. Alex Hales also came into the side as did Notts T20 captain, the Australian Dan Christian. Alex Lees (53) and Graham Clark (60) were the basis of the Durham innings, followed by some big hitting from Brydon Case (32) and former Notts man Paul Coughlin (22).

181-3 in 20 overs is an impressive score and looked even more daunting when Hales was out in the third over. Chris Nash hit 55 from 29 balls but it was Joe Clarke that took Notts to victory, scoring 100 not out, including seven 4s and eight 6s. With 22 balls remaining, the 6 wicket victory was very impressive. 


August 31st - T20 Blast: Yorkshire at Trent Bridge 

The last game of the month saw Yorkshire back in town for some T20 Blast action. The visitors batted first with former England international Adam Lyth hitting 53 and current England test captain Joe Root scoring 65. 

A quickfire 39 from Harry Brook saw Yorkshire post 190. Luke Fletcher was the pick of the Notts bowlers, taking five wickets, including twice taking two in two balls. Chris Nash continued his great form from the previous game, scoring 51. 

Ben Duckett held the innings together scoring 86 from 53 balls, steering Notts over the line, with support from Dan Christian (21) and Tom Moores (21), sealing victory with just four balls to spare. Where the four-day game brought nothing but disappointment, the T20 Blast was just the opposite for Notts as they are sitting pretty on top of the northern group after three games.   


Player of the Month - Ben Slater

After hitting the highest score of his career while on loan at Leicestershire in the first match of the season, Slater returned to Notts to post scores of 142 and 86 in his two innings, making him by far the pick of the Notts batters so far this season. 


Duck of the Month - Samit patel 

No shame in Samit trying to hurry the scoring along against Lancashire with Notts well set but he'll still be disappointed to get out first ball to the bowling of fellow spinner Liam Livingstone. 


September sees the end of the Bob Willis Trophy and the T20 Blast continue. While it would be nice to finally see Notts win a four-day game at some point, they're probably better off focussing on the shorter stuff where they actually have a chance of some success this season.

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