Wednesday, 8 April 2009

2009 county preview: Nottinghamshire

It's April - which means it must be Third Umpire season preview time. Here is an assessment of Nottinghamshire's chances in 2009. And to get involved in the season previews just post if you already have an account or email cricketingworld@hotmail.com

2008 in a Nutshell:

The new regime under Chris Read got off to an impressive start, with Nottinghamshire in contention for the Pro40 and the County Championship come September. Although they ultimately failed to claim either title, the Nottinghamshire team looked strong, especially with a bowling attack that was one of the most penetrating in the country.

2009 Prospects:
Nottinghamshire will continue in their endeavours to claim a first one-day trophy since 1989 this year, and the addition of the experienced and aggressive Alistair Brown may help to fill the void left by Jason Gallian when he departed a few years ago. Much of Nottinghamshire’s hopes may rest on how many of their side are away on international duty, with Graeme Swann, Samit Patel, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad all likely to feature in English sides this year.

Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket Mick Newell and Captain Chris Read are overall very confident that the team can challenge for honours in the coming season.

Batting:
Nottinghamshire’s batting was undoubtedly the weakest part of the team last year, with many miserable performances from the batsmen being rescued only by the sterling efforts of the bowlers. Nottinghamshire will be looking for big seasons from middle order stalwarts Samit Patel and Mark Wagh, although the former may once again be lost to the England side, a scenario which looks especially likely given his recent inclusion in the 30 man provisional squad for the World Twenty20 in June. Overseas player Adam Voges will be looking to turn last year’s promise into this year’s runs, although Nottinghamshire will be worried that too many good performances may push him into the Australian one-day side. The opening spots and the number 6 position are still effectively vacant; however Bilal Shafayat is likely to feature in some shape or form after some impressive performances last year. Will Jefferson will also be key; the ex-Essex giant is quite formidable once he gets going. Unfortunately for Jefferson, his performances last year were a lot short of what he would have been hoping for. Mathew Wood still needs to convince that he can cope at the top of the county game, and Alistair Brown needs to carry forward some impressive form from the recent warm up games. Youngster Alex Hales still needs to convert the potential into performance, but the promising start to pre-season practice suggests that his personality has matured sufficiently to turn his undoubted promise into consistent runs. Nottinghamshire also have a richness of all-rounders, with Paul Franks, Mark Ealham, Andre Adams and Luke Fletcher more than capable with the Bat.

Bowling:
Nottinghamshire’s bowling was their strongest suit last year, with Charlie Shreck, Darren Pattinson and Andre Adams all turning in a number of excellent performances with some penetrating pace bowling. Shreck was the only seamer to pass 50 wickets last year, but Pattinson almost certainly would, as he finshed on 47, despite missing a game for his unexpected (but not unmerited) England call-up. Andre Adams, despite being a latecomer as he was introduced as cover for Stuart Broad, put in such a stream of impressive performances that he finished with 31 wickets at a phenomenal average of 19.16. Nottinghamshire’s spinners also performed well in all forms; Graeme Swann was dependable, if not sensational in the 4 day game, but both he and Samit Patel were excellent in one-day cricket, putting in excellent performances throughout and almost propelling Nottinghamshire to the Pro40 title until Murray Goodwin and Mo Sami ruined that particular dream. Young bowlers and new recruits like Luke Fletcher and trialist Kyle Hodnett will be looking for first team action in the next year, as will Ryan Sidebottom, who will want to use good county cricket to regain fitness and form, and reacquire his England place. Experienced spinner Jason Brown has also joined, from Northants, and he will be likely to play a similar role to that which Robert Ferley has done for the last few seasons, providing cover for Graeme Swann.

Probable side:
Championship
Jefferson (Wood)
Shafayat (Hales)
Wagh
Patel
Voges
A. Brown
Read (wk/c)
Swann (J. Brown)
Adams (Broad)
Pattinson
Shreck (Sidebottom)

One-day
A. Brown
Jefferson
Wagh
Patel
Voges
Shafayat (Hales)
Read (wk/c)
Swann
Adams/Ealham
Pattinson/Fletcher
Shreck (Sidebottom)

Twenty20
A. Brown
Voges (If Swann unavailable)
Wagh
Patel
Shafayat/Voges
Read (wk)
Jefferson
Ealham
Adams
Sidebottom/Pattinson
Shreck/Pattinson

The pace trio of Sidebottom, Shreck and Pattinson will likely interchange throughout the season as Mick Newell looks to rest his key men. In most games, two of these three will play, as well as one of either Adams or Ealham

Key Man:
Batsman Mark Wagh was the only Nottinghamshire batsman to pass 1000 championship runs last season, and his top-order runs will be vital once again if Notts are going to mount a serious challenge for trophies.

Rising Star:
Young Batsman Alex Hales is being touted for big things, but he has to turn promising starts for the Second XI into big hundreds to secure a place in the First XI. His pre-season has been good, and he recorded an excellent 141 in a warm up game

Captain and Coach:
Chris Read will be looking to build on last season’s foundations by pushing for a trophy, although he will be hoping that the burden of captaincy has less effect on his batting and wicketkeeping than it did last year. The Nottinghamshire coaching team have a good mix of experience and new ideas, and Steve Pick, the new bowling coach, has experience with the England under-19s

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