With their place at the NatWest T20 Blast Final’s Day already secured, Nottinghamshire’s cricketers must turn their attentions to trying to preserve their top flight status this weekend.
Hampshire are the visitors to Trent Bridge for the next match in the Specsavers County Championship and the pressure will be on both county sides to come up, with a win as they currently occupy the two relegation places in the Division One standings.
“I think it’s a game where if anyone loses they are in serious trouble, there’s no doubt about that,” said Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket.
“Whilst a draw wouldn’t be a disaster, I think both teams need to start winning games and we want to win this one to get us closer to the teams above us.”
There is only a four-point cushion between Notts, in eighth, and ninth-placed Hampshire – and they both have a game in hand on seventh-placed Surrey – but wins have been difficult to come by this season.
Notts haven’t won since the opening round of matches in April, whilst Hampshire’s solitary success came in the reverse fixture at The Ageas Bowl.
Set to score 305 on the last day, half centuries from Brendan Taylor and Samit Patel had given Notts a fighting chance before Hampshire pressed home their advantage and picked up the win.
“We had to battle hard and we got ourselves into a good position on the last afternoon,” recalled Newell.
“But then we lost wickets quickly and gave away any chance of winning.”
Newell, associated with the county for over 35 years, has seen plenty of highs and lows in his time at Trent Bridge and knows what it will take to resurrect a poor championship season.
“We’ve got to play a lot better when we’re under pressure,” he said.
“If the other team play a lot better than us, then we’ve got to fight back better than we have done so far but in an ideal world you want to dominate the game from 11 o’clock on the first day.”
Newell is also hoping that the surface will be conducive to a good game of cricket.
“I think it’s fairly important that there is some sideways movement in the pitch,” he said. “I think against Somerset (the last home championship match), when we got into days two and three there wasn’t a lot of sideways movement, so that is obviously something that we are aware of, along with Steve Birks, our head groundsman.
“We don’t want to produce a dry, flat pitch that just gets flatter over four days. I don’t think that’s going to benefit us, so we need some movement and some carry in the wicket and that’s what we’ll be hoping Steve will provide.”
Last September’s meeting at Trent Bridge will be recalled more fondly by the visitors, after Hampshire picked up a last gasp win which kept them up and sent Sussex crashing down into Division Two.
Newell is expecting the south coast side to feed off those memories.
He said: “They were in a similar position last year and turned it around by winning games at the back end to stay up.”
One week away from making their bid for glory at T20 Finals’ Day, Notts have some red ball business to take care of first and Newell wants his side to step up to the mark against Hampshire.
“This is a very tough division and we now find ourselves in this position and they find themselves at the bottom but by no means are we the only two in trouble.
“Whoever wins this game will be so much closer to the teams in sixth and seventh in the table,” added Newell.
- Nottinghamshire versus Hampshire will be played at Trent Bridge over four days from Saturday 13th August 2016, start time 11am each day.