Notts Outlaws travel to Hove today ahead of their penultimate fixture in this summer’s Yorkshire Bank 40 campaign, knowing that a victory over Sussex would ensure their qualification for the competition’s semi finals.
With the Outlaws currently topping group A, bowlers Jake Ball and Harry Gurney are well aware of the threat posed by fourth-placed Sussex, who are still eyeing a place in the competition’s last four despite the numbers not being on their side.
“We’ll have to be at our best,” said Gurney.
“Sussex will need to win all of their remaining games to have any chance of qualifying but if you look at the strong sides they’ve been putting out, they certainly won't be a team to take lightly.
“We showed that we could bounce back after Thursday’s massive disappointment, it hurt us all, but we’ll be looking to do it again down at Hove this time around.”
“All of them will be keen to go out and put a big innings on the board," Harry Gurney on Notts' top order.
The Outlaws found progress difficult against Worcestershire Royals after the loss of their top order batsmen to the spin of Mooen Ali, who accounted for Samit Patel, David Hussey and Riki Wessels in quick succession. Gurney was quick to state, however, that wounded animals are dangerous prospects for their opponents.
“We have a destructive top order who are natural stroke makers, which can occasionally lead to their downfall,” he said.
“You need to find a balance. You don’t want them to stop playing and start blocking it.
“All of them will be keen to go out and put a big innings on the board, an 80, 90, or 100. They are all outstanding players, and I have every confidence that one of them will do that.”
After a period of Twenty 20 cricket in which Notts’ batsmen have taken the headlines, a return to a slightly longer game has seen bowlers step back into limelight.
Gurney and Ball, along with Ajmal Shahzad, have been the Outlaws’ main source of wickets in recent weeks, slowing batting progress and giving Notts every chance of a trip to Lord’s for the competition’s final.
“In the last couple of games the bowlers have been outstanding," Jake Ball
“If we want to get to a semi final and potentially to Lords, we’ve got a very important job to do with the ball,” said Gurney.
“Picking up wickets in one day cricket helps to restrict the flow of runs, restrict the batsmen but the first priority has to be to minimize the run rate, and the wickets come with that.
“It’s important to keep our form going for as long as we can,” added fellow seamer Jake Ball.
“In the last couple of games the bowlers have been outstanding and we’ve restricted teams to less than the par score for the wickets.
“It will be important to keep honing our skills possibly for the semi-final and beyond that to Lord’s for the final.”
After three fixtures in a row at Trent Bridge, the Outlaws face the conclusion of their YB40 campaign on the road. Gone will be the familiar surroundings and home comforts, instead miles on motorways and the likelihood of hostile away crowds at Hove and Canterbury.
“Whenever you go away from home it’s a far more difficult proposition,” said Gurney.
“Whether that be a little bit of abuse from the crowd or just the fact that the opposition players are more used to the conditions so any away win is good.
“We have been very good away from home in our white ball competitions, and we’ll be looking to take that into the final.”
Ball added: “It’s always a boost playing at Trent Bridge, and doing well in front of a home crowd. It’s nice to put performances in front of our fans, but it’ll be different tomorrow.
“Hove is a difficult place to go and play, the crowd get on your back a bit and it’s our job to try and try and quieten them down and give ourselves the best chance of winning the match.”
Notts Outlaws squad to face Sussex Sharks (from): Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, James Taylor, Samit Patel, David Hussey, Riki Wessels, Chris Read (c), Steven Mullaney, Ajmal Shahzad, Jake Ball, Harry Gurney, Graeme White.