A century from Alex Hales helped Notts Outlaws begin their Royal London One Day Cup campaign with a 29-run victory over Sussex Sharks at Cricket Field Road, Horsham.
Hales made 116, Michael Lumb added 77 and Steven Mullaney scored a quickfire 40 as Notts posted 312-8.
Mullaney also enjoyed himself with the ball, claiming figures of 4-33 as Sussex were restricted to 283-8.
Hales was understandably delighted. “It’s a great start to the campaign,” he said. “As defending champions you want to stamp your authority on the tournament and we’ve certainly done that here.”
Ed Joyce, the Sussex captain, won the toss and invited Notts to bat first, a decision that found favour with the visitors. “I wasn’t sure what to expect really,” said Hales. “We were going to bat first anyway, if we could, as it looked a good pitch but there was cloud overhead so I can understand why they made that decision but I felt me and Lumby played nicely at the top to get through that sticky patch.”
Hales and Lumb added 139 for the opening wicket for Notts but the right-hander said it was tough at the beginning. “I thought they bowled beautifully at the start, they didn’t give us that many scoring options. I knew if we got though that early morning patch it should get easier to score runs and that’s how it turned out.”
The Outlaws line-up featured both Michael Lumb and Harry Gurney returning from injury, whilst Sussex had to make do without Luke Wright, resting a side strain
Lumb drove Steve Magoffin through extra cover from just the second ball of the match but almost offered a chance in the fourth over, as his edge off Lewis Hatchett fell just short of Craig Cachopa in the slips.
The openers added 50 in the initial 10-over powerplay and then kicked on emphatically.
Light drizzle threatened to interrupt proceedings from around the 13th to the 16th over but the umpires allowed them to play through it and Lumb soon reached his 50 (58 balls 5x4 1x6), taking the total to 99-0 at the end of the 20th.
The next over saw Lumb lift Will Beer for 4 to bring up the 100 but tyhe leg-spinner was warming to his task.
He had a huge lbw shout against Lumb turned down, before eventually deceiving the left-hander in flight, to bowl him for 77.
Hales had taken a backseat to this point, reaching his own 50 from 73 balls, with only 4 boundaries.
He then kicked on, hitting Beer for a couple of huge sixes before losing a succession of partners. James Taylor (13) was also bowled by Beer and Samit Patel (8) was well taken on the boundary edge by Matt Machan, off Stefan Piolet.
Machan’s catch came shortly after he’d misjudged another effort on the ropes, reprieving Hales, who had 88 at the time.
The batting powerplay didn’t go as well as Notts would have wanted. Apart from losing Patel at the start of it, they then had Riki Wessels (0) run out, pushing his second ball to Beer, who completed a direct hit.
James Franklin (8), batting more tentatively than he had done at Headingley on Friday evening, offered a gentle caught and bowled back to Beer, who ended with 3-60.
Hales’ reached his fifth one-day ton (107 balls 8x4 2x6), cutting Lewis Hatchett for four. When he fell, in the 42nd over, Notts’ wobble had seen them slide to 234-5, having been 187-1 and then 207-2.
Steven Mullaney (40) provided the boost that the visitors needed (20 balls 3x4 3x6), sharing in a quickfire stand of 54 with Chris Read, who finished on 19 not out.
Ajmal Shahzad made 9 on his 29th birthday, and Jake Ball finished the innings with a fluorish, hitting his only delivery for 6.
Ed Joyce and Luke Wells opened up for the home side and added 65 for the first wicket before being parted in the 14th over.
Wells (23) cut Franklin straight to Taylor at point to give Notts a much-needed breakthrough.
Franklin then over-stepped his next delivery, at the new batsman Craig Cachopa. The free hit was launched many a mile over the pavilion.
Joyce reached his 50 (58 balls 6x4 1x6) with a 6 off Shazhad but then lost Cachopa (22), caught behind off Mullaney.
Taylor’s second catch of the innings was game-changer, a brilliant diving effort as the ball dropped over his shoulder, to account for Joyce (59) off Patel.
Chris Nash, who played his early cricket for the Horsham club, drove Mullaney straight to Franklin at extra cover and the same bowler also removed Matt Machan (43) and Ben Brown (3).
Steffan Piolet offered some resistance, ending with an unbeaten 63 from 48 balls, with 7x4 and 1x6 but the task was always beyond the batsmen.
Ball tidied up his own figures, finishing with 2-61 as he bowled both Beer (23) and Chris Liddle (6).
That summed up a poor match for Liddle, who bore the brunt of the Notts’ power-hitting to finish with figures of 10-0-86-0.
Notts’ second match in the competition is on Tuesday, when they face Somerset at Trent Bridge (10.30am start).