The Nottinghamshire Second XI season gets underway today with a week of cricket against the MCC Young Cricketers.
After an entertaining draw with Essex last week, Club Coach Paul Johnson is confident that his side is ready to challenge this year.
“We are a lot younger as a team this year than we have been in recent years,” he said.
"Younger yes, but not necessarily weaker. It shows the strength of the top end of the academy, of the staff that we have, that we still look strong on paper ahead of the season.”
"Ahead of the friendly I was a little apprehensive about throwing those youngsters in, but they did very well and overall it was very encouraging."
One young player who impressed in last week’s friendly is Adam Tillcock, who scored a century while batting from number seven, his first century for the Nottinghamshire Second XI.
“We’ve done a lot of work with Adam over the last two or three years, especially on his fitness and his batting over this last winter,” he said.
“To do so well in the first game of the season shows that this hard work pays off. It gets a bit of a monkey off his back.”
"It’ll be nice to pit our youngsters against theirs and see where we are in the bigger picture of things.”
Tillcock joined the academy as a batsman also able to bowl left-arm seam, but under Johnson's tutelage he has been converted to left-arm spin and he says that fans are yet to see the best from him.
"I was expecting Tillcock to grab headlines with his spin rather than his batting, but he’s shown us that he’s capable of scoring runs," said Johnson.
"His left arm spin is coming on nicely as well, he’s showing all the signs of becoming an accomplished all rounder."
Tillcock’s knock was the match’s highlight, along with accomplished performances from Riki Wessels, Sam Kelsall and youngster Luke Wood and with Monday’s one day Second XI Trophy match preceding the three-day championship fixture, Johnson is keen to let the youngsters have their day.
"It was nice to take seven or eight lads who have played for the academy side on a Saturday to play in a second XI fixture and really hold their own against a strong Essex side," he said.
“Monday's side will be younger than the championship side but on the back of the performance they have put down in Essex they should be going into the match fairly confident,”
“It’ll be an excellent gauge of where we’re at as a side.”
“We’re playing the MCC Young Cricketers and a lot of those will be of the same age as the guys we’re taking down anyway, It’ll be nice to pit our youngsters against theirs and see where we are in the bigger picture of things.”
The Notts Second XI Trophy match will be played tomorrow at Radlett Cricket Club in Hertfordshire. The same venue will host the three-day Championship match on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Trophy XI (Monday): Kelsall, Franks, Rowe, S.Wood, White, Tillcock, Bacon, L.Wood, Ball, Kitt, Mellor (WK)
Championship XI (Tuesday-Thursday): Kelsall, Rowe, Mullaney or Wessels, S.Wood, Hutton, White, Phillips, Tillcock, Franks, Ball, Carter, Mellor (WK)