Nottinghamshire host pre-season title favourites Essex at Trent Bridge this Thursday, coming off the back of their first red-ball win in 1,043 days.
Before this season began – as usual – many were touting Essex to be runaway favourites and whilst this season has been far from disastrous, they sit fifth in their group with just one win. Notts on the other hand have picked up an impressive first win since 2017.
Former (and still potentially future) England golden child Haseeb Hameed has picked up form again and is looking immovable at the top of the order alongside Ben Slater. Both batters will be hoping to be in with an outside chance of England recognition this season, and Notts will need all of their grit and technique to fend off Sam Cook and Jamie Porter. At various times the country’s premier new ball partnership, these two will hold the key for Essex in the first innings as they look to stop Hameed and Slater giving Ben Duckett and Joe Clarke a platform.
The Notts middle order have not pulled up many trees this season but there are few bowlers who would relish seeing Tom Moores or skipper Steven Mullaney walk out with runs on the board.
This is where Essex’s Simon Harmer will be vital, Harmer tears through county sides due to English players’ lack of ability against spin and nullifying this threat (easier said than done) in the middle overs will go a long way to deciding this result.
Since Essex lineup with England’s greatest batter (Sir Alastair Cook), a test match half centurion (Tom Westley) and and a perennial opening candidate (Nick Browne) in their top three, it is imperative that Notts have their first choice bowling attack firing. Stuart Broad speaks for himself, James Pattinson could have one of the great test records of the decade had injuries not plagued him and Luke Fletcher is one of the most consistent seamers in county cricket.
Notts coach Peter Moores hopes that this victory signals towards a resurgence in red-ball cricket, where the county has been underperforming for a number of years now. Speaking to the club website Moores said ‘There’s a lot of hard work being put into the way we go about our red-ball cricket’ and delighted in the victory which he hailed as ‘a fantastic moment’.
A game against an Essex side who have not been as ruthless as they would like this season will provide a massive boost to Nottinghamshire’s hopes of securing back to back victories in this format. The downside however is that Essex presents somewhat of a sleeping dragon and will be smarting at their inability to finish sides off in their two draws so far, don’t bet on that continuing.