Read refusing to rest on his
laurels as Notts hunt more silverware

Comment and Analysis | 13th April 2011

It's been quite a last 12 months for Notts CCC's proud skipper Chris Read – on and off the field.

After twice finishing as runners-up under his charge, the green and golds made it third time lucky by clinching the County Championship Division One title in the most dramatic of circumstances.

The reward was a memorable October trip down to Buckingham Palace in London, where the Devonian proudly presented his team to the Duke of Edinburgh to pick up their winners' medals.

Then, in January, there was another unforgettable moment when wife Louise gave birth to the couple's second child, Callista Lily.

But the good times have not stopped there. Only last week, Read was named as one of Wisden's four cricketers of the year for his part in guiding Notts to the title.

It illustrates just how highly thought of the wicketkeeper batsman is on the domestic front and just what an inspiration he has, and continues to be, for his team-mates.

Without doubt, Read would love the next calendar year to be just as fulfilling, which in a cricketing sense means Notts once again challenging for the country's leading domestic honours.

But the astute 32-year-old knows that success in 2011 is likely to be all the harder to come by.

Clinching the County Championship is no mean feat, but retaining that honour, with everyone else out to bring you down, is quite another.

"We have been there or thereabouts for the last three years and we have a good team," said Read.

"It's not something that concerns me that we are not fancied because we have not gone out and made quite a few signings like Somerset or Hampshire.

"We have not been as active and not made too many changes apart from adding Ben Phillips and Riki Wessels, but the young players are coming through and they are now a year older and wiser.

"I'm aware that we have to play better than we did last year to get the same results and that there are no easy games.

"It's going to be a tough division but we are not going to approach the season any differently to the last three years I have been captain.

"Every county sets off with the aim of winning something. A realistic target for us is to get through the early months and put ourselves in a position where we can challenge for silverware.

"If we are in that position come August, then I will be happy because six months makes for a long season."

Read's biggest concern ahead of their opening match at home to Hampshire tomorrow is the injuries to bowlers, Ben Phillips, Darren Pattinson and Graeme White.

But he is otherwise pleased with preparations that saw Notts play the MCC and a Twenty20 competition in Abu Dhabi and Dubai before taking on Surrey and Oxford University in friendlies.

Read said: "Having injures at this stage of the season is always a worry. Ideally, you want everyone fit and raring to go at the start.

"I'm not sure we have learned masses because I think we are a pretty settled squad anyway.

"But we have got some overs under our belt and the batters have spent good time in the middle and we have definitely been helped by the fantastic weather we've had."

What has pleased Read is the encouraging form of young seamers Luke Fletcher and Andy Carter, who have hit the ground running in pre-season.

He hopes they will blossom to help fill the void left by former England international Ryan Sidebottom, who left Trent Bridge this winter to re-join home county Yorkshire on a three-year deal.

"There is no doubt we are going to miss Sid. He is a fantastic bowler and cricketer and he always gave his all for Notts," said Read.

"There was the added bonus that he was a left-armer and there are not too many of those knocking around.

"He added a bit of variation that we have not got now, but we still have a handy complement of seamers which has been bolstered by the arrival of Ben Phillips, who is a very experienced and capable cricketer.

"Luke Fletcher has come back from Australia and is bowling very well. He had injury problems last year and he has come back fit and a better cricketer.

"And Andy Carter has made big progress and it has helped him being part of the ECB's fast bowling programme over the winter."

But it is not just the four-day game where Read wants success. He is also keen to add the missing component to his CV – a one-day trophy.

Notts' last limited overs success was their Sunday League triumph of 1991.

He said: "It is the one thing that has eluded me during my time at the club and the club itself for a number of years.

"We have been pretty close in Twenty20 and 40-over cricket in the past and we are always trying to improve.

"In 2009, we had a particularly poor 40-over season and no-one at the club liked that, so last winter we did something about it.

"New signings Steven Mullaney and Graeme White helped make our side a lot more competitive and there was a marked improvement.

"I feel our Twenty20 squad looks strong again this year, if for different reasons. Last year it was our seam bowling with Dirk Nannes and Ryan Sidebottom regularly available, together with Darren Pattinson.

"This time you look at our batting and I think it is one of the strongest in the country.

"It's a big ambition to win a one-day trophy and it would be great if it was this year."

That, or more four-day glory, would certainly keep Read's roll going very nicely indeed.

Matt Halfpenny is the Midlands Sports Journalist of the year and follows Nottinghamshire for the Nottingham Post.

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