This time last year, Scott Elstone was still playing in front of the proverbial one man and his dog. Now he is very quickly having to get used to playing in front of thousands.

As skipper of the Notts Academy side in the county's Premier League, Elstone put in the hard yards around the local grounds, from Cuckney in the north to Radcliffe in the south – scoring three half-centuries along the way.

He also added to his reputation as a quick-scoring batsman, as well as useful off-spin bowler with some encouraging performances for Notts' second team.

The result for the Burton-on-Trent-born player was a first senior call-up to the Outlaws t20 team for their game at Grace Road last July.

It was to be his solitary appearance in the competition last summer, although he did get more of a run later in the campaign in the CB 40 side.

This season, however, Elstone has got the nod in both the Outlaws' opening t20 games, both played at Trent Bridge, against Derbyshire Falcons and Yorkshire Carnegie in front of crowds of 8,585 and 6,136.

But it has not fazed the 20-year-old, who is hopeful of hanging onto his place – after the Outlaws have got off to the perfect start with two wins from two – when they travel to Warwickshire tonight.

"It's been really fun coming into the t20 side over the last year or so," said Elstone.

"You can see the crowd enjoy it as well, which makes it good for us as players.

"Playing in front of the large crowds is great, even if it is pretty nerve-racking.

"You can't really not enjoy t20 cricket.

"We are looking pretty strong in all areas at the moment. Runs on the board are key, but we are bowling really well at the minute as well, so we are relatively happy.

"Once you have a good score to defend, and the run rate goes up, we back our bowlers to do the job and help us get home.

"The batting is looking very strong with the experience of (David) Hussey, (Adam) Voges and (Samit) Patel in the middle order, which is massive for us. So far they have done the job absolutely brilliantly.

"It's hard work coming in at the point I do, to be honest, because the pressure is usually on.

"It's just being able to handle that, but as long as the lads at the front keep doing the job then I can mainly just swing from the hip and I'm happy with that."

The truth is that Elstone has yet to be fully tested, such has been the prowess of the Notts top order on the opening weekend.

But he showed in scoring 35 not out from 20 balls in a CB 40 game against Essex in May – which included a four and three sixes – that he can be a powerful lower middle order striker.

Just as important, though, is his brilliance in the field, which saw him hold a magnificent boundary-edge catch to dismiss Gerard Brophy against Yorkshire on Sunday.

After that 53-run victory – about as emphatic a margin as it gets in t20 – Elstone pinpointed the input of skipper Hussey as vital.

The Australian has returned to Trent Bridge after his latest spell in the IPL with Kings XI Punjab with scores of 60 and 28.

It means Hussey now needs only 63 more runs to usurp fellow countryman Brad Hodge as t20 cricket's all-time leading run scorer.

"It's up there in terms of achievement when Huss gets to that and I'm not surprised because his record speaks for itself," said Elstone.

"It's an absolutely incredible achievement and, if anything, the IPL has let him down a bit this year! (scoring just 64 runs in eight innings).

"If he'd have gone well in that, then he would probably have already got there and be leading.

"But the good thing is he's come back here and clicked again and we're so happy to have him.

"It would be great for him to do it at Notts this summer."

Tonight, the Outlaws make the short trip to Birmingham knowing a victory could put them clear at the top of the North Group if Lancashire slip up at home to Leicestershire.

They face a Bears team who won their first two games with a degree of comfort, only to lose by 40-runs to the Northants Steelbacks last time out.

Elstone said: "I would like to say we would win again and make it three out of three, but it's not as easy as that.

"They have had a good start like ourselves and it looks like it is going to be two pretty strong teams against each other and I just hope we can come out the best.

"There's still a long way to go. We've started well but we have to keep our feet on the ground."

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

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