Amla / Nannes / Hussey:
Comment and Analysis | 31st May 2010
Managers, coaches and, in Notts’ case, directors of cricket are powerless to influence a game once their players cross the boundary rope.
All the best laid plans can go up in smoke when the pressure that goes with a high-profile fixture kicks in.
But what can make a significant difference is getting in the right personnel in the first place; finding performers who can cope with the weight of expectation.
And in the increasingly competitive environment that is county cricket, there are no more important decisions to make than who to draft in as overseas signings.
Getting that right, securing stars who throw themselves into the task wholeheartedly, rather than shirking the responsibility and pining for home, is where a county cricket ‘boss’ can earn his money.
Fortunately for members and supporters of Notts, it appears Mick Newell, the man passing judgement at Trent Bridge, has really done his homework to seemingly get the balance absolutely right this summer.
His first part of the jigsaw was tying down big-hitting batsman David Hussey, who has been a revelation in previous seasons for the green and golds since first joining in 2004.
The Australian right-hander’s influence over the past two seasons has been limited. He did not figure at all in 2008 due to other cricketing commitments and played just a handful of matches last year.
Even so, Hussey’s form remained as imperious as ever, scoring 407 runs at 81.40 in just three County Championship matches, as well as 120 not out off 61 balls in his one Pro40 League game against Somerset.
Happily, 32-year-old Hussey has been signed up for what is a much larger chunk of the 2010 season.
And, in another well thought-out move, he will replace Chris Read as captain for the Friends Provident T20 competition.
In leading the County Championship and Clydesdale Bank 40 sides, quite apart from batting and keeping wicket, the Devonian already has more than enough on his plate.
This way, Read will be able to concentrate on producing his best form with bat and gloves, while getting some welcome respite from leading the rest of the side.
Hussey, meanwhile, will have no qualms about taking charge.
Not only has he temporarily skippered Notts in the past in the absence of Stephen Fleming, but he has also taken charge of his state side, Victoria, back in his homeland.
With the rules changed for this season to allow two overseas aces per team in English domestic T20 cricket, next on Newell’s ‘hit list’ was a pace bowler to impact and excite in equal measure.
And in Dirk Nannes, the Outlaws believe they have the very man.
Even at 34, the left-armer is still one of the quickest bowlers around, regularly topping 90mph on the speed gun, and has proven pedigree at international level and in T20 tournaments.
Nannes helped inspire Middlesex to Twenty20 Cup glory in 2008 and adopted country Holland to a sensational victory over host nation England in last year’s ICC World Twenty20.
His form of late has been no less impressive, topping the list of leading wicket-takers in this year’s ICC World Twenty20, after switching to play for Australia, with a haul of 14 wickets.
Nannes’ experience in the IPL, playing for the Delhi Daredevils, is also likely to come in handy.
If Ryan Sidebottom is made available to play in T20 by the ECB, then Notts are likely to have quite an opening and death bowling attack at their disposal.
And while that pairing would not guarantee success, it is hardly likely to do their chances any harm.
The third and final headache for Newell before the start of the 2010 campaign was how to fill the early-season gap left before the arrival of Hussey.
However, once again, the former Notts batsman came up trumps with the capture of South African run-machine Hashim Amla.
The 27-year-old has been a bastion of consistency for his country, propelling him up to second in the ICC rankings of the world’s best Test batsmen, behind Virender Sehwag.
He also boasted a successful spell in England at the tail end of last summer with Essex on his CV.
As Amla was not involved in the IPL and tends not to play Twenty20 internationals, it opened up a window of opportunity for him to play county cricket.
"If Hussey departs towards the end of the season to play for Victoria in the Champions League, then Amla is being lined up to return."
It was a situation Newell was astute enough to capitalise on – and it certainly proved a masterstroke.
During his time at Trent Bridge, Amla scored 377 runs at 75.40 and exuded an air of solidity and confidence.
At a time in the early English season when the ball swung and seamed around, the South African was the perfect player to shore up the top order.
His 129 on debut against Kent was a batting masterclass and four other half centuries underlined his ability and powers of concentration.
It was he, as much as anyone, who helped Notts get their campaign off to a flyer with four wins from four for the first time since 1922.
Amla was, of course, not available for Notts’ defeat at home to Hampshire and they missed his steadying influence.
The good news is he could yet be back. If Hussey departs towards the end of the season to play for Victoria in the Champions League, then Amla is being lined up to return.
Perhaps Newell’s biggest success with his overseas triumvirate is in the timing.
Amla has been around to tough it out when resilience and patience have been of the essence.
Hussey will come to Trent Bridge at a point where the wickets will be flattening out and his hard-hitting style will be more effective.
And he and fellow Australian Nannes will join forces for the crash-bang-wallop of T20, where it is hard to imagine a more explosive combination.
If Notts do go well in the rest of their County Championship season, the Friends Provident t20 or both, then the players will, quite rightly, take the bulk of the accolades.
But spare a thought for Newell, whose own contribution could easily be overlooked.
Foresight, as well as hindsight, can be a wonderful thing.
- David Hussey will captain Notts Outlaws in their Friends Provident t20 fixtures. Notts Outlaws begin their home fixtures against Derbyshire Falcons at Trent Bridge at 6pm on Friday 11th June. Discounted tickets are available in advance of all Friends Provident t20 fixtures from our online ticket store.
Adult tickets bought in advance cost £12, juniors and senior citizens can buy tickets for £7 and a family pass for two adults and two children costs £31.
Ten adult tickets can be bought for £96, a bundle of two adult tickets and eight junior tickets costs £68 and adult season tickets are available for £72. Family season tickets cost £175 and senior citizens can watch all eight matches for £39.
Notts Outlaws Friends Provident T20 Fixtures at Trent Bridge
Fri June 11th - 6pm - Notts Outlaws v Derbyshire Falcons
Sun June 13th - 2.30pm - Notts Outlaws v Worcestershire Royals
Tue June 15th - 6.10pm - Notts Outlaws v Lancashire Lightning
Tue June 22nd - 6pm - Notts Outlaws v Northants Steelbacks
Fri June 25th - 6pm - Notts Outlaws v Durham Dynamo
Sun June 27th - 2.30pm - Notts Outlaws v Warwickshire Bears
Thurs July 15th - 7pm - Notts Outlaws v Leicestershire Foxes
Sat July 17th - 6.10pm - Notts Outlaws v Yorkshire Carnegie
Click here to visit our online ticket store or call 0844 8118711.