Notts Outlaws were defeated in the opening match of their Barbados tour, losing to Warwickshire Bears by just 14 runs. Chasing a victory target of 207, the Outlaws were dismissed for 192 with just seven balls of the innings remaining.
Despite the loss, Mick Newell wasn’t too downbeat at what he’d seen. “It’s been an excellent day and a very good pitch”, he said.
“We’ve been well looked after and it was a typical pre-season game where nobody has gone on to make fifty – those sort of things tend to happen at this stage of the season but I’m pleased overall with the day’s cricket.”
Amongst those that caught the director of cricket’s eye was Scott Elstone, who followed up his bowling figures of 2-17 with an innings of 30.
“Scott’s had a good day with the bat and ball”, said Newell.
“Both this format of the game and Twenty20 cricket would seem to be his way into the first team picture at the moment. He’s had an excellent day and that’s the sort of performance we’re looking for across the board.”
Windward Cricket Club, on the east coast of the island, was the venue for the county’s first fixture of 2012 and under azure blue skies but with a gentle cooling breeze, play got under way on time at 10.30am with the Outlaws in the field after Paul Franks had won the toss.
Varun Chopra and Darren Maddy gave the Bears a solid platform with the highest stand of the day in an opening partnership worth 71. Harry Gurney and Ben Phillips began for Notts with the ball and kept the run-rate under control as only 45 came from the initial ten overs.
Chopra then lofted Gurney for six and Maddy greeted Jake Ball’s introduction with a similar hoist over the long-on ropes as the pair looked to accelerate.
The stand was finally broken in the 13th over, with Ball getting the first wicket of the tour. Chopra (34) clipped away on the on-side and Phillips judged the catch beautifully at deep square leg.
As so often happens, one wicket brings two, with Graeme White snaring newcomer Laurie Evans (0). A tentative prod lobbed up to short extra, where James Taylor was able to dive low to complete the dismissal.
Maddy (45) was beginning to look in sublime form but then lifted the returning Gurney up and over the slip region but the ball carried to Karl Turner on the full to leave the Bears on 91-3 after 17 overs.
The swaying palm trees in local gardens formed an elegant back-drop to the proceedings, whilst above the club-house bar hung a framed piece of Nottingham lace – showing the Trent Bridge ground and county crest, presented by the Stragglers CC in 1998.
Warwickshire’s rebuilding work during the middle overs came courtesy of skipper Jim Troughton (16) and Rikki Clarke (18) but then both fell in quick succession, soon after another bowling change. Scott Elstone, into the attack, saw off both experienced batsmen, with each of them holing out to White.
Chris Woakes and Keith Barker entered the last ten overs with work to do, at 144-5 but attempting to take the long-handle to Steven Mullaney, Woakes (21) became the latest to find the safe hands of Graeme White.
Barker was the last to go, giving Gurney his second wicket in the penultimate over as the Bears nudged their final total up to 206-7.
The Outlaws lost Neil Edwards (4) in the third over of their reply. Carter’s delivery found the edge but the batsman could truly be considered unfortunate to be taken by a spectacular diving one-handed catch by Rikki Clarke at second slip, a position in which he has few equals.
Riki Wessels hit the first boundary of the Notts innings, from the bowling of Chris Wright. His next effort from the same bowler was as elegant a piece of timing as you could wish to see, effortlessly stroking it to the rope at backward point.
49 was on the board when Karl Turner miscued an attempted pull off Barker and wicketkeeper Johnson ran back to pouch the opportunity.
Lime green permanent sightscreens are an unusual yet practical addition to this attractive club ground, which has staged first class fixtures in the distant past.
Wessels’ stylish innings ended abruptly on 31 when a slower ball from Clarke, stopped on him and the resultant lob was easily claimed by Paul Best to leave the score on 57-3 after 13.
James Taylor whetted the appetite for the summer ahead with some crisp shots all around the wicket but after a stand of 39 the Bears struck again when Steven Mullaney (21) used his feet to the spin of Best but couldn’t clear Woakes at long-off.
Scott Elstone joined Taylor and pulled Wright forcefully away for his first boundary but the same bowler hit back with a crucial wicket with the score on ‘Nelson’.
Taylor (24) was trapped in his crease for the first lbw of the day. At 111-5 in the 26th the balance had shifted towards the Edgbaston side.
78 runs were needed from the final ten overs, with five wickets in hand and Paul Franks and Scott Elstone chipped away at the target during the 5-over batting power-play. The pair added 44 together to bring about realistic hopes of reaching the target but then the young right-hander fell to a sucker-punch long-hop for a well-crafted 30.
Franks had ridden his luck a little bit. After pulling Wright for a maximum, the Notts catain was then caught off a no-ball and dropped soon afterwards by Troughton before falling to Carter for 32, the highest score of the innings.
A late salvo saw Ben Phillips (10) and Graeme White (15) each clear the ropes but both fell as the end came in the penultimate over.
NO JOY FOR THE GREENS ON ST PATRICK'S DAY
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