Trent Bridge will see a return to the Yorkshire Bank 40 this Sunday, as top of the table Notts Outlaws face second-placed Northants Steelbacks at 1.45pm.
The Outlaws’ current points total of 14 tops the standings across all three groups, and with three fixtures in the coming week, Director of Cricket Mick Newell is eyeing qualification as soon as possible for his side.
“This is an important week,” he said.
“By the end of the three matches we can guarantee a semi-final place, so it’s important that we get straight back into the game on Sunday against a team that are playing well at the moment.”
“Winning two out of three would take us to the position where I don’t think anyone could catch us,” added Newell.
“That makes the first one really important, to push Northants further back from us and it would open up a bit of a gap between first and second place.”
The Steelbacks will be arriving in Nottingham in fine form. Earlier in the week they booked their place at the FLt20 finals day with a win over Durham, and are currently topping the LV=County Championship Division Two.
“We played them in Barbados in a 20 over game and hammered them really,” said Newell.
“In the first game in this competition too, and beat them convincingly then as well.
"The desire to improve on the performance from the Essex match will be important." Mick Newell
“They’ve grown from there, and have played well in the 40 over and 20 over cricket, they’ve made themselves a strong team.”
After the Outlaws’ disappointing exit from the FLt20 at the hands of Essex Eagles, all eyes will be on the strength of the players’ characters to bounce back and continue thei fine YB40 form they hswowed earlier in the season.
“Realistically this is the last competition that we can win this summer,” said Newell.
“The pressure is there, but the desire to improve on the performance from the Essex match is the important thing.
“The result should have given the players a bit of a ‘hurry up’, if you will.
“They know that they can’t qualify for Finals day so if they want to play in a big one day final this summer they need to improve their performances now.”
The Outlaws will be forced into one change from the squad who faced Essex, with New Zealand international bowler Ian Butler returning to his homeland after the culmination of their campaign. It does, however, open the door for another bowler to come in and fill the void.
“Ajmal did well for us in the YB40 earlier in the season,” said Newell.
“He’ll come back into the side, and it’s his chance to show that he has deserves that spot in the starting eleven.”
Notts Outlaws Squad to face Northants Steelbacks (from): Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Samit Patel, James Taylor, David Hussey, Riki Wessels, Steven Mullaney, Chris Read (c), Graeme White, Ajmal Shahzad, Jake Ball, Harry Gurney.