Thursday, 2 October 2008

2008 Season Review: Nottinghamshire

Continuing our season reviews, 'OBR and the Nottinghamshire 606ers' offers an assesment of Nottinghamshire's season.

Final placings:
Championship Division One – 2nd;
FP Trophy – 2nd, Midlands Division (Beaten Quarter Finalists to Durham); Twenty20 Cup – 4th, North Division; Pro40 Division One - 4th
All stats are CC (unless otherwise stated)

Following on from promotion from Division two last season, once again Nottinghamshire’s season was a rollercoaster of joy, to despair, back to joy and more often then not ending up in despair. Thoughts at the start of the season were ones of how to avoid a struggle at the bottom of the County Championship and hopefully sneak some silverware in the one day competitions. In the end thoughts were one of ‘If only’ with Championship and Pro40 titles slipping away on the last day of each competition.

There were many changes towards the start with captain fantastic, Fleming moving on and David Hussey not sure how much cricket he would play for Notts, if any at all. The batting was strengthened with Matthew Wood coming in after being released from Somerset. The bowling department was also strengthened with the Stuart Broad coming in from Leicestershire, Darren Pattinson (more about him later) coming in after a recommendation from David Hussey and after a few games. Ex-Overseas player Andre Adams also came in, on a Kolpak agreement, as cover for Broad and Sidebottom, who were to be regulars in the England team. Once Hussey had made it clear that he would not play any cricket for Notts till at least July, Notts quickly moved to bring in Adam Voges and then when he made it even clearer that he would play no part at all, Ashwell Prince, came in as a replacement from Voges, who had to return to Oz in July. Chris Read took the captain’s armband with Fleming moving on.

So Notts went to Kent for the first game of the County Championship season without Broad and Sidebottom, who had been told to rest after a long hard winter (Cough!). With this in mind, many fans were just willing Notts to get up to the magical total of 155 points to avoid relegation and kick on in 2009. OK maybe that was just me but one or two other people agreed with me (I think!). But after 53.4 overs Kent were dismissed for 162 and fans everywhere were punching ‘Darren Pattinson’ in various search engines on the web to find out exactly who he was. He ended the game with figures of 36-15-85-8 and Mick Newell had unearthed a new bowling genius to add to the already cupboard stocked full of bowling geniuses. Notts finished the game with 22 points and but for rear guard actions from Key and Mahmood in each innings, Notts would have finished the game well inside 2 days.

After this game things stuttered along a little with a draw at The Parks, a win in Dublin in the FPT, an abandonment at Egbaston in the FPT, a draw at Headingley (when Notts were well on top). A D/L win against Northants was followed up by revenge for Kent at Trent Bridge. Whoever let Broad and Sidebottom play wants a stern talking to!

The first month provided an accurate pre-cursor as to how the season would pan out. A great start but a disappointing end, with the bowling being great but the batting was sadly not up to scratch.

As the season progressed the Notts fans were soon questioning the ability of openers Jefferson and Wood to provide a stable base from which to score big runs. The running joke being that Notts were starting their innings a wicket or two down, before they crossed to rope. Jefferson finished the CC season with 442 runs @ 22.10 and Wood 539 @ 26.95. Both players didn’t managed a century and both obtained a top score of 98. It was only when Shafayat (541 runs @ 41.61) came in for Wood at the top of the order did Notts get a substantial opening partnership, 157 against Sussex at Hove and that was late August!

Behind the top, two Mark Wagh proved to be Mr Consistency by eight fifties and getting past the one hundred mark twice. He ended the season with 1033 runs @ 46.95. Samit Patel didn’t quite make the 1000 run mark but ended strongly with scores of 135, 70 and 77 to end the season with 977 runs @ 51.42. Then came the Swann, Read, Ealham middle order that was either saving an innings or throwing it away. They ended up with 525 runs @ 37.50, 726 runs @ 45.37 and 329 runs @ 20.56 respectively. The two interesting things from these three is Ealham started the season with a 130* at Kent and then amassed 199 runs in the CC after that and Read’s ave was boosted by 5 NotOuts but his batting was sadly affected by the captaincy. The only two other notable contributors to the scorebook in the CC were our two Overseas players who managed 627 runs @ 36.88 and Prince 123 runs @ 30.75. This disappointing return from Voges and Prince along with Jefferson and Wood’s ‘contribution’ of 5 fifties and zero centuries, lead, in no small part, to Notts finishing second in the County Championship. As opposed to top where at one point they looked like finish.

The theme of starting well and finishing up poorly continued in the Friends Provident Trophy, Twenty20 and especially the Pro40. In the FPT we managed to finish second behind Leicestershire and then went out in a nail-biter to Durham at the Riverside, where the batting, Samit’s run a ball 114 apart, failed but Durham struggled to a win by one wicket, with Samit also picking up three wickets and the MOM award. The Twenty20 record after 6 games was W,W,L,D,W,W the next four had a consistent look about it L,L,L,L. Notts were then thrown a lifeline when Yorks fielded an ineligible player at Trent Bridge, in the decider and Notts were given the points to take them through to the Knockout stage.

That lifeline was rapidly taken away by the ECB as it somehow transpired that Notts shouldn’t be given the game points but Yorkshire should have their points taken away. This meant Glamorgan would go through to the Knockout stages after crying like babies. Strange that Glamorgan profited from this decision after the other remarkable decision of being granted the first Ashes test on an untried ground. Anyone would think that the ex-head of the ECB was Welsh or something. As for the Pro40 outings Notts won 3 from the first four games and one of the next 4, we all know what happened in the decider at Trent Bridge on Sunday the 14th September. I blame my brother who with Sussex needed loads off not many proclaimed that Notts had won and we could all go home. Murray Goodwin must have heard his big mouth and tried to ram the last ball down his throat on the middle deck of the Radcliffe Road.

In the end, as we all know, Notts threw away a great chance of sealing the CC total to make up for the Pro40 by collapsing in their first innings against Hants when they had them for the taking and the title went to Durham with their mix of imports and local stars.

I always like to end on a positive note so here it is; the bowling, Sussex game apart the seam attack of Shreck, Pattinson, Adams and Ealham was superb throughout the whole season. In the CC they ended up with 58, 47, 31 and 30 wickets each. Averages were 28.67, 24.65, 19.16 and a poor by Ealham’s high standards 29.56. They were backed up by the spin twins of Swann and Patel 32 wickets @ 27.03 and 12 wickets @ 37.91. Samit did manage to take 26 wickets @ 15.73 in List A games which catapulted him into the England ODI side and potentially on the biggest pay day of his career in the WI in November.

The 'Roof Tiler from Grimsby' as he was dubbed by the red tops was also selected to play for England in the Test at Headingley, leap-frogging the likes of Tremlett and Hoggard much to the dislike of 99.9% of the cricketing fraternity. He didn’t bowl too badly against SA, they just completely outplayed England but it would appear that Pattinson was made scapegoat for the defeat and would never darken the England dressing room door again. As I type he is on Cricinfo as saying he wouldn’t have picked himself. The point being that he didn’t pick himself the England selectors did and he was hardly going to turn them down was he now! It was only in the last game of the season did Pattinson and his seam/spin colleagues look weary. As much as our batting was fragile the bowling sextet always seem to pick up wickets early on and at the right times.

Overall 8/10

Player of the season:
Notts say it is Charlie Shreck and they are about right but not far behind him are Samit Patel and Mark Wagh from the batsmen and Pattinson, Adams and Swann from the bowlers. All the other players are far far behind and I include Read in this due to his poor batting and keeping at times. Hopefully the captaincy doesn’t affect him as much next season.

Most disappointing player:
Lots to choose from here Jefferson, Wood, Voges, Prince, Franks (a CC bowling ave of 50+!), Ealham’s batting post Kent,

The start at Kent, the last ball win against Leics in the FPT, the stuffing of Surrey, Samit’s innings in the same game, Samit’s allround play against Durham in the FPT Quarter Final. All things considered 2nd in the CC when we were playing Div2 cricket last season is a great achievement. Fletcher, Saleby and Hales all playing for England U19 in the same game.

Oh where to start. Obviously Sussex in the Pro40 and Hants in the final CC game, Yorks, Lancs and Durham all at home and all on Sky. Four home Sky games and four defeats. Jefferson and Wood’s batting. The Overseas contribution, we expect them to score big and they didn’t. Newell’s inability to bring youth into the equation. The ECB T20 debacle, I know we didn’t deserve to go through but don’t tell us we are through and then listen to whinging Welsh people who claim to be sooooo hard done to.

If you're interested in writing a season review for your county, please email it


Chrispy said...

Was surprised at Notts success, but hadn't factored in Pattinson and Adams. I had struggled to see how Franks and Ealham would take enough wickets with Footitt, etc.

The batting was a let down up top, though Wagh, Patel and Swann were very good. Expected more from Voges, though he did well in limited overs.

Ultimately failed in the big games, does that mirror Read on the biggest stage? maybe.

Richard Lake said...

You could say that Chrispy - or the fact that the whole added up to much greater than the sum of the parts could indicate that he took them further than they should have gone.

Nice to see Patel coming through and it would be nicer to see Notts developing more of their own talent rather than poaching others.