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George Dobell at Trent Bridge
May 16, 2014
Nottinghamshire 182 for 5 (Patel 56) beat Lancashire 149 (Clark 44, Mullaney 4-46) by 33 runs
A trio of discarded England batsmen saw Nottinghamshire to victory in their opening match of the NatWest T20 Blast at Trent Bridge.
James Taylor, Michael Lumb and Samit Patel - none of whom were included in the England limited-overs squads named earlier this week - thrashed 125 between them from only 84 balls to take the Nottinghamshire total out of reach of a Lancashire side that look painfully thin in terms of their batting.
If Patel, who made a 39-ball half-century, went on to record the highest score of the game, it was Taylor who most impressed. At one stage he hit James Anderson for three successive fours, before clipping Kabir Ali over midwicket for six. It was another reminder of his range of stroke and his power. Aged 24, and with a career T20 batting average of 35.16 and a List A average of 50.76, you would have thought he was exactly the sort of player the England selectors were looking towards for the future.
Indeed, Taylor could be forgiven for wondering what more he has to do. While he has spent the last few days giving positive interviews to every news outlet that was interested about the attraction of this competition, he has seen Michael Carberry, almost 10 years older and with an inferior record in all three formats of the game, recalled to the squad after delivering a scathing and not entirely accurate assessment on the team management.
Patel might wonder what more he has to do, too. Blessed with marvellous hand-eye coordination, he put away anything less than yorker length with power and skill in recording the 15th half-century of his T20 career. He later delivered four overs of gentle but well controlled left-arm spin, claiming his 100th T20 wicket in the process.
That Patel was not unbeaten was due to an outstanding boundary catch from Steven Croft in the final over of the Nottinghamshire innings. It appeared as if Patel had repeated the stroke of the previous ball - a six over long-on - but Croft produced a superb leap and held on to a catch that will have to be a contender for the best of the season.
By then the damage was done, though. Lumb and Taylor had added 54 in four overs, Patel and Riki Wessels a further 53 in 5.5 and, by the time Patel and Chris Read added another 39 in 24 balls, Nottinghamshire were out of reach.
Perhaps, had James Anderson bowled his full allocation of overs, Lancashire might have restricted Nottinghamshire to a more manageable total. The reason given by Lancashire for the seemingly odd decision was that they felt Wayne White was bowling better than Anderson.
Lancashire never threatened to get close to their target. While Jos Buttler, of whom a miracle is expected almost every time he bats, produced a few sparkling strokes - a scoop to fine-leg off his second delivery, a reverse sweep of remarkable power and a thrash over long-on - too much was required of him.
Jordan Clark, a 23-year-old with a large reputation in second XI cricket which included six sixes in an over last season, also hit the ball unusually cleanly in making 44 from 20 balls, but by then it was a question of how large the margin would be. Clark, who would be one of those players most at risk of losing his place should Andrew Flintoff make a comeback, was yorked by the impressive Andy Carter.
Almost the only fault Nottinghamshire made all evening was Taylor dropping a simple catch offered by Tom Smith at mid-on. But Alex Hales, earlier undone by a sharp short ball from Anderson, picked up the rebound and saw that Smith was run out with a fine, strong throw.
This was close to a perfect opening evening for the re-launch of the competition. On a fine pitch for this format, spectators were treated to fours and sixes, brilliant catches and hopeless drops, a couple of amusing run-outs and enough warmth to allow a crowd of 10,971 to sit in relative comfort until past 9pm. That is only just short a record for a group game on this ground and, after a home win and an entertaining evening, there is a good chance many will return.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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