Usually when you see my name enlisted at the top of an article on these pages, you are about to engrossed in my views on all things Nottingham Forest.
With pre-season now in full swing, it would have been quite easy for me to throw something together on the Reds for this week’s piece, but ‘throwing things together’ isn’t really my style.
Instead I positioned myself in front of the box on Saturday and jumped firmly on the bandwagon as Nottinghamshire Outlaws took centre stage in the Royal London One-Day Cup Final, and I must say I was gripped.
Nottinghamshire and England batsman Alex Hales smashed his county to victory in emphatic fashion with a glorious 187no, which eclipsed a record that had stood for 52 years.
The scintillating knock was, quite frankly, one of the best I ever seen in such a format of domestic cricket and kept up Notts’s fine form during the current
It is quite surprising that Hales etched his name into Lord’s folklore by making the highest score in a final at the home of cricket at the expense of
Geoffrey Boycott, who perhaps wouldn’t normally be associated with swift scoring in limited-overs cricket.
Boycott’s 146 back in the 1965 Gillette Cup contributed to Yorkshire’s thrashing of Surrey, but the Notts opener ensured that the Lord’s record books needed a new chapter adding to them. So it was a timely knock for Hales, and his team, who secured victory by four wickets to compound misery on a laborious Surrey.
The 28-year-old Londoner will, quite rightly, take the plaudits for his matchwinning innings, but the contribution of long-standing Notts captain Chris Read should not be undervalued.
The veteran arrived at the crease with his side toiling on 150-5 and you could argue that his savvy 58 swung the pendulum firmly in the direction of the Outlaws for the first time in the enthralling game.
Hales said after the game that his team’s success in the competition was dedicated to Read, and it was emotionally telling that on his last appearance at the famous ground, he would put in such an intelligent performance to help edge the county he has served since 1997 closer to their required target.
While Saturday July 1, 2017 will be one that stays with Hales for the rest of his career and probably his life, big occasions often become too much for some
players, and young Ollie Pope will be hoping to forget Saturday afternoon as quickly as possible.
The 19-year-old Surrey man was playing in just his sixth List-A game and it was he who was fielding at cover when Hales’s hard, head-height shot popped in and then back out of his hands with the Notts batsman on just nine at the time.
The youngster’s unfortunate dropped catch would cost Surrey 178 runs and, in the long run, extinguished any hopes they had of lifting trophy.
Nothing should be taken away from the responsible batting showcased by the devastating Hales, however, and with the hopes of a county firmly upon his shoulders, he delivered with absolute aplomb.
Regardless of whether cricket is your cup of tea or not, if you appreciate top-class sporting events then Hales’s knock from Saturday was a must-watch. The
sight of a sportsman totally in the zone and doing what he does best was just absorbing.
Hales’s performance was like poetry in motion. He drove, flicked and hoicked his way through the gears, ensuring a famous afternoon for those of a Nottinghamshire Outlaws persuasion.