Minutes before the start of Nottinghamshire’s LV=County Championship fixture against Surrey last week, captain Chris Read was forced to withdraw with a neck injury. This left Notts short of one of their most consistent players, and on a personal level left him two short of 100 consecutive four day appearances for the county, a fact that appeared to have passed him by.
“I’m not really a big man for statistics,” he said.
“Someone told me that I’d managed to play 98 consecutive matches, and I was surprised.”
Read added: “I’m looking at it as testament to my fitness, and ability to keep out of injury for as long a period as possible.”
“I’ve still been having the occasional little bit of back and neck ache, but it’s under control and I’m ready to go again.”
It has been a big week for Notts, the victory against Surrey was their first four day win at home this season, and on Wednesday the Outlaws saw off Warwickshire with comparative ease to make it four wins out of four in this year’s YB40 competition.
"With Huss coming in, I’m never going to get a game!” Chris Read
“We’re playing fantastically,” said Read.
“The manner of the victories so far means we’re carrying a lot of confidence, a lot of expectation into this weekend’s fixture.”
Notts’ batsmen have dominated headlines thus far, and none more so than Michael Lumb, whose fifty off 28 deliveries saw him leave Edgbaston with Wednesday evening’s Man Of The Match honours.
“There are a lot of sides looking to the top of our order, and worrying about bowling against us,” said Read.
“Our opening batsmen in limited overs cricket this summer are the two England t20 openers, that’s rare to see in itself.”
“Alex Hales is proving what an exceptionally talented batsman he is, and when Lumby puts together innings in the destructive way he did this week... it’s no wonder we’re starting to reap the rewards.”
Even after these two players, the Outlaws have batting quality through the ranks, the likes of Samit Patel, and two players who deputised for Read in different ways in his absence against Surrey. Riki Wessels behind the stumps, and James Taylor as captain.
“Riki is an exceptional keeper,” said Read.
“I remember playing against him when he was a full-time wicket keeper at Northants, and his quality was there to see.”
He added: “James Taylor has also been excellent for us, both in regard to his captaincy last week, which was helped by the time he spent with the England Lions last year, and his batting of course.”
“He’s the kind of player who, at the end of a match, will walk off with his bat held high, saying to himself that he’s played very well, got fifty and won us the match.”
This batting strength is only going to improve later into the summer, with the arrival of David Hussey once more, as the club’s second overseas player. While his quality is unquestionable, Read faces a selection headache on his arrival.
“It’s going to mean a rejigging of the order,” he said.
“David Hussey is an outstanding striker of a cricket ball, the kind of player who can step onto the crease in the middle of the order and win a match single-handedly.
“His influence in both the red and white ball forms of the game will only help us.”
Hussey is set to arrive ahead of the start of Nottinghamshire’s t20 campaign, and will be at Trent Bridge for the rest of the season. The positive aspects of his game will be plain to see, but there is one thing on Read’s mind.
“It’s hard enough to get in and bat from number six in the limited overs matches already and, with Huss coming in, I’m never going to get a game!”
Notts Outlaws v The Netherlands - Sunday 26 May 1.45pm at Trent Bridge
Adults £14 / Under 16s £8 / Over 65s £8 / Students £8 / Family (2+2) £36
Buy in advance or visit the ticket office on matchday