Notts Outlaws face a home tie against Essex Eagles at 7.10pm on Thursday 8 August in the quarter-finals of the Friends Life t20 after defeating second-placed Lancashire Lightning by 60 runs in the final fixture in the group stages.
The Outlaws topped the North group with 14 points, and their net run rate of 1.009 is the highest in the competition.
Even after this achievement, pace-man Ian Butler is sure that there’s more to come from the Outlaws.
“On paper we’re as good as anyone in the tournament, if not better." Ian Butler
“We’re in a position where we’ve got through, it’s where we wanted to be but I don’t think that we’ve performed to our full ability yet,” he said.
“I don’t think that we’ve turned in a complete performance, which is what, as a team, we’re striving for.”
The Outlaws topped the North group of the competition and go into the quarter-finals with home advantage. However, due to the games remaining elsewhere in the tournament, their opponents are yet to be decided, the draw taking place after the culmination of the fixtures this evening.
“I’d happily face any of the teams who are in contention,” said Butler.
“To win the tournament, and that’s our aim, you have to beat these sides, it doesn’t matter whether that’s in the quarter-finals or on finals day itself.
“On paper we’re as good as anyone in the tournament, if not better. We all know cricket isn’t played on paper, and we’ll need to be at our best,” he added.
“You look at some of the players who are missing out, and it’s astonishing,”
"The numbers we’ve had are more than we’d get in New Zealand on finals day," Ian Butler on playing at Trent Bridge
Butler has played in all bar one of the Outlaws’ group games, bowling excellent spells against local rivals Leicestershire and Derbyshire in the process. With batsmen aiming to hit everything, aided by shorter boundaries, it can be difficult for bowlers to make an impression on this format.
"T20 cricket is hard for bowlers,” said Butler.
“Batsmen look to hit everything, and target the shorter boundary, but that’s part of the game.”
“It’s how we play too, and the games we’ve won have been because we targeted and hit that boundary more than the opposition.
“Our spinners have been excellent over the past few fixtures, Samit and Whitey won us the game against Lancashire,” added Butler.
“There’s also Harry Gurney, who is on top of his game and is a hugely important player for us.”
One side of Butler’s game that will have come as a surprise to most is his explosive batting. Called upon when big shots are in order at the late stages of innings, his ability to clear the ropes gives him an added edge in this competition.
“I enjoy the batting as much as the bowling in t20 cricket,” he said.
“I come in with five or six overs to go, take a couple of balls to get my eye in and then see what I can do.
“I might only get an over at the end, but that’s testament to the depth of our batting line up.”
The Outlaws secured passage into the knockout stages thanks to a convincing win over Lancashire Lightning, in front of a Trent Bridge crowd in excess of 8,000. With their next opponents arriving in Nottinghamshire for the quarter-final, Butler is hoping that the crowds will continue to come.
“I couldn’t believe the crowds we’ve had in for the group stages,” he said.
"The numbers we’ve had are more than we’d get in New Zealand on finals day, and for those to be at Trent Bridge for a round-robin game, it’s amazing.
“I’m hoping that there’ll be even more coming in for the quarter-final, it helps us and dampens the opposition. Let’s hope we can give them the performance they deserve.”
Friends Life t20 quarter-final ticketing information:
Tickets are already on sale to Nottinghamshire members with general sale beginning at 4.30pm on Thursday, initially from the Club's online box office.
Members can visit the Trent Bridge ticket office or call the ticket hotline from 9.30am on Thursday with ticket office and phone bookings accepted from all supporters from 9.30am on Friday.
Tuesday 6 August
Surrey v Somerset, 4.15pm
Northants Steelbacks v Durham Dynamos, 7.10pm
Wednesday 7 August
Hampshire Royals v Lancashire Lightning, 7.10pm
Thursday 8 August
Notts Outlaws v Essex Eagles, 7.10pm
Members - Adults £15 / Under 16s £8 / Over 65s £8
Non-members - Adults £17 / Under 16s £9 / Over 65s £9 / families (2+2) £43
On the day:
Adults £20 / Over 65s £20 / Under 16s £10 / Families (2+2) £50
Steak, chips and ticket
Notts Outlaws supporters can secure early access to Friends Life t20 quarter-final tickets by taking advantage of a £25 deal that includes hospitality and a match ticket.
The Steak, Chips & Ticket package is now on general sale to all supporters.
This package can only be booked online by clicking here.
The pre-match meal comprises of:
Char-grilled Sirloin Steak
Tomato & Rocket Salad
The dress code is casual and there is no limit on group sizes.