Nottinghamshire resume their LV= County Championship programme when they face Somerset at Taunton from Wednesday with their hosts pressing hard for their first championship pennant. It promises to be a difficult task for Mick Newell’s side, who historically haven’t enjoyed many of their previous trips to the County Ground.
The last time Notts registered a win there was back in April 1985 when they pulled off a nine wicket success.
On that occasion honours were pretty even after each side had batted once – with Tim Robinson scoring 105 in the visitors first innings.
Peter Such, with 5-73, helped skittle the hosts out for 133 second time around, leaving Broad, Robinson and Randall to knock off the required runs.
Over the years Nottinghamshire have played at a number of out-grounds when visiting the ‘cider county’, including Bath, Frome, Weston-super-Mare and Yeovil but they have played 32 championships matches at the county headquarters in Taunton.
As in most long-term match-ups it’s the home side that hold the overall advantage. Somerset having won thirteen of the meetings, Notts five, with 14 draws.
On a ground that has developed a reputation as being a batter’s paradise, it’s perhaps surprising that only nine Nottinghamshire batsmen have scored championship centuries at Taunton, beginning with William Gunn, who hit 101 in 1894. Since then the ton-up guys have been;
John Clay 127 (1955), Norman Hill 106 (1967), Basharat Hassan 104 (1964), Mike Harris 163 (1975), Tim Robinson 105 (1985), Richard Hadlee 133* (1987), Jimmy Adams 144* (1994) and Samit Patel, who hit 104 last year.
Two Nottinghamshire bowlers have claimed 7-wicket hauls at Taunton. Mark Bowen bagged 7-73 in the drawn match in 1998 but Bruce Dooland, the Australian leg break and googly specialist, spun his side to a narrow win in 1955. In pursuit of 286, the home side fell for 277 with Dooland taking 7-110.
There was another tight finish in 1984 as Somerset edged home by just 3 runs. Bruce French enjoyed a fine match behind the stumps – taking six catches in the first innings and two stumpings in the second. Chasing 297, Notts fell for 293 with Vic Marks collecting 6-111.
The fourth of Notts’ five wins on the ground came during Garfield Sobers’ first season as club captain. He took 5-31 in the first innings of the 1968 match, with all five dismissals coming via positive lbw decisions. It became a little nervy in the end before the travelling side reached their target of 103, with just three wickets in hand.
Last year Nottinghamshire were beaten by ten wickets inside three days, despite getting off to the perfect start.
Darren Pattinson, on his way to figures of 5-95, clean bowled Marcus Trescothick with the first ball of the match. Nevertheless, helped by 142 from James Hildreth, 88 from Jos Buttler and half centuries from Craig Keiswetter and Peter Trego, the home side mustered a mammoth 517.
Notts replied with Samit Patel’s century but only Chris Read’s 80 to back him up, the visitors were made to follow on.
Charl Willoughby grabbed six wickets in the first innings but it was Alfonso Thomas who shone second time around. His five victims helped dismiss Notts for only 190.
Requiring only 13 runs for victory Somerset’s openers did the job inside 2 overs – bowled by Notts’ new ball attack of David Hussey and Alex Hales.
Hales has happier memories from the Trent Bridge clash against Somerset, played earlier this season. His first innings score of 184 was a career-best and was followed by him being awarded his county cap.
That match in early July ended in a draw and a similar result or better this week would see Notts extend their unbeaten run to five matches. Currently in fifth place in the table, they trail third-placed Somerset by 37 points.
A couple of milestones worth looking out for this week see Samit Patel closing in on 1,000 first class runs for the season. Thanks to his recent scores for the England Lions he has now amassed 992 runs.
Paul Franks, meanwhile, is inching closer to the 500 wicket milestone. He currently has 495 first class victims to his name.
Darren Bravo, if selected, will become the seventh different player to make his first class debut for Nottinghamshire this season, following on from Brett Hutton and Jake Ball v MCC, Ben Phillips v Yorkshire, Sam Wood v Lancashire and both Karl Turner and Sam Kelsall v Durham.
Dave Bracegirdle provides ball-by-ball commentary on all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches on behalf of BBC Radio Nottingham.