Nottinghamshire commentator Dave Bracegirdle recalls fond memories from his time on the road in 2012.
THE LADS ENJOY THEIR ‘KNIGHT’ OUT
Notts enjoyed a very beneficial pre-season tour of Barbados in March. Apart from six days of competitive cricket and some precious warm weather training, the squad had some down-time and a couple of social events to attend. At both of them, the most famous Barbadian cricketer of all-time was in attendance. To see Sir Garfield Sobers openly give of his time to talk to the squad, pose for photographs and sign autographs was worth the air-fare alone. The Notts players quite rightly appreciated their time with the great man.
Another classic moment of the 12-day trip was having a police motorcyclist escort the team coach across the island for the semi final of the twenty20 competition. Our Highway Patrol Officer honked, beeped and moved everything aside – including the bus of opponents Yorkshire. “Get out of the way – pull over.”
‘THE GENERAL’ GETS HIS 500th WICKET
Trent Bridge, 21 April
I knew how much it meant to Paul Franks to reach 500 first class wickets and for the last year or so I’ve encouraged him along through the high 400s until he brought up the milestone in the home match against Somerset. In truth, there wasn’t too much for any of the Nottinghamshire bowlers to celebrate as Nick Compton (204 not out), Arul Suppiah (124) and James Hildreth (102 not out) lifted the Cidermen to a first innings score of 445-2 declared. Franks toiled away manfully and got his reward as Suppiah edged to Hales at first slip for his 500th ‘notch’. The all-rounder said, ““It’s a relief to finally get there and something I’m very proud of. It came in a phase when nothing much was going for us. I just tried to hit the wicket as hard as I could – back of a length. Arul went at it a bit hard and nicked it off and Alex has taken a good catch at slip.”
“I WAS THERE” WESSELS SCORES 199
Hove, 25-28 May
If there was a manuscript for the perfect away trip, this was it. The PROBIZ County Ground at Hove was bathed in scorching hot sunshine for four days of a match that featured some exhilarating cricket and – most importantly - a Nottinghamshire victory.
Innings like the one played by Riki Wessels are so few and far between, it really is a joy to be able to say, “I was there”
The right-hander helped Alex Hales to an opening stand of 171, the first time a pair of Notts openers had shared a century partnership for four years. Wessels reached stumps on the second day undefeated on 184 and admitted that his father Kepler, who used to play for Sussex, had texted congratulatory messages and had spurred his son on to even greater feats.
“His top score was 254,” said Riki. “And he’s bet me a fair few bucks that I’ll never beat it, so hopefully I want to cash in tomorrow and make him pay.”
Riki went past his own best score of 197 but on 199 he edged Steve Magoffin through to ‘keeper Ben Brown. Had it been any other stage of the innings he would have hit the ball for a boundary but he was just trying to dab the ball away for the single that would have brought up his double-ton.
In some of the cleanest hitting ever seen by a Nottinghamshire player he scorched 33 boundaries and two maximums in his 381-minute, 278-ball knock.
The victory was Notts’ first in the championship at Hove since 1983 and took them to the top of the table.
NERVES EASED BY OPENING WIN
Grace Road, 12 June
I must admit I thought we were all set up for a big fall when we embarked on our opening Friends Life t20 fixture of the summer. Trooping off to Grace Road for the match against Leicestershire Foxes I had a sense of foreboding for once.
Although the Foxes were languishing at the wrong end of the Second Division table in 4-day cricket, they were the defending t20 champions.
Added to the mix was the presence of a couple of former Foxes in the Outlaws line-up, in the shape of James Taylor and Harry Gurney and the fact that East Midlands bragging rights were up for grabs in this televised clash. I feared the worst.
Thankfully I needn’t have worried. Put in by Adam Voges (“I still wasn’t really sure what to do, even after I’d won the toss,” admitted the Australian), Notts dismantled the Leics batting in ruthless fashion.
Steven Mullaney took the man-of-the-match honours for a spell of 4-19 as the home side were bundled out for just 96 in 17.3 overs. Notts coasted to an emphatic 6-wicket victory with Taylor rubbing salt in the wounds by striding to the crease and hitting four boundaries in his 16 not out.
DRE BOWLS STRAUSS
Uxbridge Cricket Ground, 11 July
“It angled in, straightened from middle and off and clipped the top of the off stump," said Andre Adams. "With the right line and length and that bit of seam movement, I’d put that in my top three deliveries of all time.”
The Kiwi star was talking about his dismissal of England captain Andrew Strauss at Uxbridge. Adams collected first innings figures of 6-32 to skittle out Middlesex for just 98 on the opening day of the match but Strauss, with 50, had used all of his experience, on a tricky surface, to prevent complete disaster.
Bowled by an absolute beauty from Adams, the left-hander walked from the ground smiling ruefully and afterwards admitted there was little he could have done to keep out the delivery. Strauss held up Nottinghamshire with an undefeated century in the second innings – before rain – wiped out the final day.
‘CRICKET’S KATE BUSH’
Trent Bridge, 28 July
Many people pop up to the commentary box and share an on-air chat during the course of a championship match. With all due respect to each and every one of them, my highlight of the summer would have to be the period I spent with Derek Randall alongside me in the home match against Sussex.
Randall was a boyhood hero and remains one of my (and practically everyone else’s too!) all-time Nottinghamshire favourites.
His observations and witty delivery confirmed what I already suspected – he would have made a great addition to the ever-growing number of ex-players who then move on to a world of summarising and commentary.
Tactlessly, I referred to the great man as ‘Cricket’s Kate Bush – big in the 70s and 80s but rarely seen since. “I’m just happy doing a bit of gardening,” he said.
KP KNOCKED OVER BY GURNEY & READ
The Kia Oval, 4 September
Nottinghamshire seemed to be on the wrong side of the divide in 2012 with regards to the availability of international players. Whilst we were often without key players after England calls, opponents would often have their star names available.
And so it proved when Kevin Pietersen found himself in temporary England exile and in the Surrey starting eleven to face Notts at the Kia Oval.
Looking to make a statement Pietersen came down the wicket to loft his first delivery from Graeme Whte away for four but he’d only made 15 when he fell to Harry Gurney – aided by a stunning piece of glovework from Chris Read.
“We had no special plans for him,” said the left-arm quick. “You can talk about plans all day long but a good area is a good area on any given pitch and I just wanted to run in and hit those areas as hard as I could. He had a little fish outside off stump, nicked it through and Ready took a brilliant diving catch an inch off the floor.”