County previews April 2, 2013

Nottinghamshire strengthen their case

Last year: 5th, CC Div 1; Quarter-finals, FLt20; 4th in Group B, CB40.

2012 in a nutshell: By Nottinghamshire's high standards, 2012 was something of a disappointment. They started well in the Championship, winning four of their first seven games, but failed to win a match after May. Andre Adams carried the bowling attack - not easy for a 37-year-old - and masked the deficiencies of some of his colleagues with a remarkable Championship strike rate of a wicket every 38 balls or so. He was also the only Nottinghamshire bowler to claim a five-wicket haul. Several of the top-order batsmen had periods of poor form but Michael Lumb proved a wise acquisition and such was the reliability of Chris Read down the order that Nottinghamshire always had a safety net. They fared well in the FLt20 until a final-ball loss against the eventual winners, Hampshire, in the quarter-finals, but becoming the only team to be beaten by Scotland, in a rain-ruined game, cost them dear in the CB40.

2013 prospects: Recognising they had a weakness in their seam bowling, Nottinghamshire were among those most keen to attract James Harris to Trent Bridge. They eventually had settle for Ajmal Shahzad, who may have greater potential to succeed than Harris but also has the propensity to fail, while Jake Ball looks as if he is ready to fight for a first-team place. Harry Gurney, who bowled with pace and skill on the pre-season tour of Barbados, also looks ready for greater opportunities and may push Luke Fletcher, who remains an odd shape for a professional sportsman, and Andy Carter for their places. Ed Cowan, for the first part of the season, and David Hussey should stiffen the batting, but Nottinghamshire look well stocked in that department: Lumb, Alex Hales, James Taylor, Samit Patel and Rikki Wessels really should be able to establish match-defining totals in all formats. Nottinghamshire have reached at least the quarter-finals of the T20 for the last three years and, with that batting line-up, could go even further this time. While spin bowling has been a bit of a weakness since the loss to England of Graeme Swann, the development of Sam Wood and Graeme White promises better for the future.

Key player: Taylor's star has waned a little since his move from Leicestershire. Struggling to adapt to some tricky pitches and the step up in quality to Division One, he only passed 50 twice in the Championship last season and saw others move ahead of him in the England pecking order. But he remains an outstanding, if unorthodox player in all formats and should score far more heavily this year.

Bright young thing: Nottinghamshire's reputation - a slightly unfair reputation - as a predator of other counties' talent has overshadowed their development of young players. Wood, a 19-year-old offspinning allrounder, looks a fine prospect, though. It will not be easy for him to force his way into the side, but Wood appears to have plenty to offer in all formats.

Captain/coach: Mick Newell remains as director of cricket, despite interest from Bangladesh, while Chris Read continues as captain.

ESPNcricinfo verdict: A strong team which should challenge in all formats, Notts may lack the bowling quality or depth to win the Championship but the age-range of the squad and the quality of emerging players bodes well for the future.

Read our supporters' network preview on Nottinghamshire. ESPNcricinfo will be publishing a fan blog for each of the 18 counties as we build up to the 2013 season

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Phil on April 4, 2013, 15:36 GMT

    How about Steven Mullaney? Can be good with the bat, perhaps better in 1 day format with the ball.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    Notts must start to win trophies. They have enough quality and enough depth and are long overdue, particularly in the shorter formats of the game. As everyone says, the batting should not be an issue and they have an experienced captain in Chris Read, who also remains an outstanding keeper. I am not convinced by Ajmal Shaza but for this year at least, Notts should get a decent return out of him. I think they are a good bet and will go close in all competitions.

  • Mark on April 3, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    Notts seem to be generally agreed to be the closest rivals to Warwickshire for the title. They seem to tick most of the boxes to mount a title challenge, particularly a powerful batting line-up and a varied attack. Ajmal Shazad has a point to prove and many England fans would like to see him back taking wickets and pressing for a Test recall, if only to encourage some of the seamers ahead of him in the queue.

    However, with such potential in the batting it seemed that last season they were all too often 5 or even 6 down for very little and depending on Chris Read and the tail to dig them out of trouble again. Notts cannot allow themselves another season relying on the tail to build totals if they are to press for the title. There have been plenty of complaints about James Taylor's omission from the Development squad, but he now has a perfect opportunity to make a case with his adopted county and force his way into he England side by weight of runs.: if he does, Notts will go close.

  • Fergus on April 3, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    Has George taken up residence in Shahzad's head??? Coz that's the only place he's more likely to succeed than Harris. Me thinks he's having a laugh.

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