October 1, 2013

Trophy win papers over Championship cracks

Andrew Butler
David Hussey blasted a quick half-century, Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, FLt20 North Group, Old Trafford, July 1, 2013
David Hussey is leaving Notts after 10 years and leaves a huge hole to fill  © Getty Images
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"I love it when a plan comes together", so goes the famous catchphrase of Hannibal in the A Team, and you could hear those words echoed by many Nottinghamshire fans across the country as we secured our first piece of Lord's silverware since 1989.

Three years ago the members demanded a Lord's final, and since that moment Mick Newell has gone about assembling a side that would get Notts there. So once the euphoria of having won the competition had slightly wound down, what followed were appreciative nods in the direction of the director of cricket - we asked for it, and Newell delivered.

I think most would agree that Notts probably deserved it after the one-day season we've had. The crushing blow of losing to Essex in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final clearly conjured a demon that had to be exorcised, and the Yorkshire Bank 40 was the only place to do so. The demolition of Somerset in the semi-final showed the prowess of the team, and once Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad were made available for the final, our very own A Team had arrived.

As such Notts brought their A game to blow Glamorgan away. But praise is due to the Welsh side who had done brilliantly to get there in the first place, and certainly had Notts fans nervous on numerous occasions throughout the afternoon. Had it not been for a fine 99-run stand between club captains Chris Read and David Hussey the game could have been very different.

Speaking of which, is there anything more satisfying than a captain leading from the front in any major sporting occasion? Read, who admitted himself has had a fairly torrid season with the bat, strode out to the middle with his side teetering, and battled as if he were Henry III in 1241 taking the fight to the Welsh - his sword a cricket bat, and invading Lord's cricket ground rather than the region of Perfeddwlad.

Read was ably assisted by the stalwart Hussey, who made the day slightly bittersweet for Notts followers as he announced after the game that he wouldn't be returning to Trent Bridge next season. You know when you watch a film and you already know what happens at the end, but it still shocks you when it does? We all knew he would have to leave at some stage - but we just didn't think it would be now. After ten years of incredible service at the club he will leave on a high, and his boots will be huge ones to fill. Thanks for everything, Huss.

The victory at Lord's turned an average season for Nottinghamshire into a good one - but looking forward to next season there must be cause for concern over the four-day form.

A truly dismal display against Durham handed the hosts the Championship trophy at Chester-le-Street and somehow plunged Notts back in the relegation battle with Derbyshire. No-one really expected our local rivals to even have a chance of staying in the division with one game remaining, but fortunately against Somerset that man Hussey put in a fine first-innings swansong appearance to see Nottinghamshire to safety. Not to mention Derbyshire's abysmal batting down the road. We won't go there, it's just too easy to mock.

Now we've secured our Division One status for another year, one can reflect on what has been a good season. Not a great one, by any means, but the YB40 trophy will go down as a historic victory for us. Our first one-day trophy since 1991, a first Lord's final since 1989 and reward for assembling a team that is designed for the one-day format.

The winter will throw up some interesting issues - who will replace Hussey? Newell said he'll be looking for a bowler - a marked change from the overseas norm. So who will that be? Can Andre Adams last another season? Will Alex Hales get the green light to prove himself in the IPL - and should he go, will the likes of Michael Lumb and Samit Patel also follow? But for now, we can look back on this season with the Lord's victory standing tallest in all the positives and negatives this season has put us through.

Andrew Butler is a radio producer and freelance sportswriter. He tweets here

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Butler
Andrew Butler is a radio producer, freelance sportswriter and commentator. If there's sport to be watched around Nottinghamshire, he'll do his best to make sure he's there. He supports Nottinghamshire and will often be found anywhere the sun is around Trent Bridge. @mrabutler

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