County previews 2014 March 31, 2014

Notts capable of further glory

Last year 7th, CC Div 1; QF, FLt20; Champions, YB40.

2013 in a nutshell

Promise finally turned into fulfilment for Nottinghamshire in 2013. They won their first piece of Lord's silverware since 1989 when they dispensed with Glamorgan in the final of YB40 at Lord's. The demolition of Somerset in the semifinal showed the prowess of the team, and once their England pair, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad, were made available for the final, their extra firepower was doubly apparent, even if it took a 99-run stand between Chris Read and David Hussey to remove their jitters. A captain given to repeated rescue acts joining forces with a long-serving overseas player about to end his 10-year association with the county: it was an appropriate alliance.

Delight at taking the YB40 trophy made up for the shock of a heavy defeat at Trent Bridge against Essex in the Twenty20 quarterfinal. It was in this competition where Notts seemed most likely to strut their stuff, but they suffered a third consecutive quarterfinal defeat after conceding their highest total of the season and then succumbing to a hat-triuck by Shaun Tait.

A squad increasingly devised for limited-overs cricket was unimpressive in the Championship. A dismal display against Durham handed the hosts the Championship trophy at Chester-le-Street and plunged Notts into a late relegation battle with their closest rivals Derbyshire. Hussey's farewell against Somerset ensured they survived, but they deserved to do so sheepishly.

Michael Lumb, James Taylor and Samit Patel with the bat and Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney with the ball had decent Championship seasons, but there was little else to admire. The lack of a frontline spinner was a glaring weakness. Alex Hales' Championship average of 14 after he was refused the chance to play IPL questioned both his aptitude and appetite for long-form cricket.

2014 prospects

Notts can anticipate a decent season. They should press in both limited-overs competitions and should not dice with relegation to the extent they did last season. They have long established themselves as the powerful force in the East Midlands, thanks to intelligent development of Trent Bridge and shrewd use of cricket's low-key transfer market and that is not about to change.

Crucially, they have switched to an overseas bowler this season, and an indefatigable one, too, in the Australian Peter Siddle. That is a sensible switch of emphasis as their bowling attack has long been overly reliant on Andre Adams whose first-class career must be reaching an end. Andy Pick has other good material to work with: a fit Luke Fletcher can make a robust contribution and Harry Gurney is a left-armer with a growing reputation, enough to get him a guest spot on England's one-day tour of the West Indies.

The departure of David Hussey puts more pressure on the batting, and it leaves the onus on Alex Hales, in particular, to pay more serious attention to his technique and work to establish himself as an adaptable cricketer in all formats. An experimental move down the order in Championship cricket might be worth considering.

Key player

Michael Lumb lifted Notts' spirits by quelling talk that he might turn freelance and committing his future to the county, stating: "I've played in the IPL and I feel as though I've ticked that off my list. If Lumb can have a late flowering in county cricket, and solve at least half of Notts' perennial issues at the top of the order in the Championship, that is half the problem solved. If he can carry Hales with him, even better, although Trent Bridge's demanding batting conditions make that far from automatic.

Bright young thing

Harry Gurney's reputation began to blossom in 2013 when he finished the Championship season as Nottinghamshire's leading wicket-taker, taking 44 wickets at 30, enough to catch the eye of the England management who invited him to pre-Ashes nets along with another left-arm quick, Tymal Mills, to prepare England for an expected onslaught from Mitchell Johnson. If that did not work our so well, the bowler himself is capable of more good things.


Chris Read retains the captaincy in the Championship, but there is a new face in charge in one-day cricket - James Taylor, a rueful admission perhaps that his attempts to force his way into England's Test side have so far been largely unsuccessful. Mick Newell remains as coach, but the most intriguing addition to the coaching staff comes in the formidable figure of Andy Pick, who returns as bowling coach after an unedifying experience as high performance manager for the USA Cricket Association.

ESPNcricinfo verdict

Notts are capable of reaching at least one-day final and are capable of some entertaining cricket in the Championship which can carry them into the top half of the table. If the signing of Siddle can be allied to improvements from the rest of the attack under Pick's tutelage, there could be plenty of smiles at Trent Bridge. Just don't give them too many slow turners.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo