Notts Open Up Small Lead At Summit
It’s a long time before any prizes are handed out in this domestic county cricket season but Nottinghamshire’s captain and head coach already believe they’re ahead of the game with three early victories and top spot in the First Division table, writes Dave Bracegirdle.
Beginning the season with a block of five consecutive matches in the Specsavers County Championship, the duo decided to set the team a challenge.
“We have set small targets,” revealed Steven Mullaney, the new skipper charged with leading the side after the retirement of Chris Read.
“We’ve broken the season down and looked at these first five matches as a mini-series. We’re currently three-one up, with one to play – but now we have to push to try and make it four-one.”
Peter Moores, who led the side to two white ball trophies and a promotion in his first season in charge, also confirmed that there would be no relaxing now.
“Yes, we’ve won this series, which was out first goal,” he said. “It’s nice to package things up in little ways but we’re now targeting the next match and that’s at home, which is important.
“But we’ll have to play well because Lancashire have steadily got better. They seem like they have really got going now.”
Notts got the better of the Red Rose county when he two sides met at Old Trafford in early April. The final morning delivered an extraordinary passage of play when a total of 12 wickets fell during an astonishing period in which only 25 runs were scored.
Mullaney, who began his career with Lancashire, is relishing the prospect of another meeting against his home county.
“They’ll go into this game off the back of a good draw at home to Somerset and they’ll have James Anderson playing, so we’re under no illusions.
“I know it’s a cliché but it’s still early in the season and we’ll take each game as it comes. If we keep doing that and keep playing good cricket it will stand us in good stead for the rest of the summer.”
The 31-year old has taken well to the demands of captaincy but had struggled for runs, before hitting a century in the recent victory over Hampshire.
“I feel like I’ve been playing nicely and preparing well but now I’m a little bit older and a bit wiser I know how to deal with things if I get a few low scores and I just continue to do the same things.
“It was nice to spend some time in the middle and get a hundred though!”
Mullaney has had a slight side strain, which has prevented him from bowling in the last three outings but he confirmed he expects to be fit enough to bowl again this week, if necessary.
In the final round of red ball matches, before the one-day competition starts, the battle between England’s premier pair of fast bowlers may well be pivotal to the outcome, with Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad again being made available for the tussle against Anderson and co.
Nottinghamshire play Lancashire in the Specsavers County Championship, at Trent Bridge from 11-14 May 2018.
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