If it’s true that a week is a long time in politics, then the same can be said of seven days in professional sport too.

Take the Notts Outlaws for instance. This time last week, they were pointless and languishing at the wrong end of the NatWest T20 Blast North Group table.

Fast-forward to now, hours before their third home match of the campaign against the Worcestershire Rapids, and things look entirely different.

The Green and Golds may still sit in the bottom half of the table, but a victory against their West Midlands visitors tonight – which would be a fourth in a row – could take them up into the top three, depending on run rates, so tight is the group.

Some would point to the 13-day break the Outlaws enjoyed leading into last Friday night’s home clash with the Derbyshire Falcons as the key reason for the recent resurgence - and there’s no doubting it has enabled players to get some welcome rest after an extremely hectic period.

But Head Coach Peter Moores believes it is more that his charges have now ‘settled’ into their task, having quickly switched from 50-over cricket in the Royal London One-Day Cup to the frenetic pace of the game’s shortest format.

The former England man also points out that some of the personnel for the Blast has been changing – and has required a period of transition.

What is not in dispute, however, is that the Outlaws look an altogether more accomplished and confident outfit now than the one skipper Dan Christian led out at the start of the month to face the Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley.

“It’s a new-look team and it’s taken time to find the tempo and style of cricket that they want to play,” said Moores. “I still don’t think we’ve played at our best yet, but we are starting to play a lot better now, which is great.

“We know we have got aggressive players when it comes to the batting – and we have seen that in the last three games, as well as in the Royal London matches.

“But there has been quite a lot of change over the last month with what’s happened to Michael Lumb and Greg Smith retiring, as well as the injury to Luke Fletcher, so credit to the players for coping with that.

“One of the key things for us is that the lads have a big appetite for getting stuck into their work and making sure that they are ready to fight hard in every game. I think we’ve done that well all season.”

Like Durham, who Notts defeated by nine wickets last night (Tuesday), Worcestershire have yet to open their victory account in this year’s T20 Blast ahead of tonight’s game (6.30pm start), having lost four times and had another game fall victim to the weather.

But, just as in the north-east, Moores and his players will be taking nothing for granted against the Rapids, who the Outlaws managed to do the double over last season, winning by four wickets at New Road and by nine wickets on home turf.

Moores said: “All the sides in the competition are good sides and have their players who can really shine, with Worcestershire no exception.

“If someone has a brilliant two overs, batting or bowling, it can really put the pressure on you. One of the things we have done well is to concentrate on executing our skills, rather than worrying too much about the opposition. 

“Yes, we do look at who we are playing but, equally, we back ourselves and our abilities. If we do things right we know we have a good chance of victory.”

Both Luke Wood and Tom Moores were thrust into the starting line-up at the start of the T20 matches and have grown in stature since then.

Seam bowler Wood has taken two wickets in each of his last two games, while Moores junior has kept wicket diligently and also chipped in with the bat when required.

“It’s been great to watch them grow into their roles in the side because we want to develop players for the future,” said Moores senior.

“It’s credit to them, but also to some of the senior players who have helped them to slot in. If we are to build for the future, we need to create opportunities for our young players at the right times.”  

The Outlaws beat their T20 record crowd last weekend, as 14,123 packed in to Trent Bridge to see a tense, high-scoring win for the hosts against neighbours Derbyshire.

Moores described that match and atmosphere as ‘very special’ and hopes to see more big home crowds in the matches that remain.

He said: “I think that was a game who those involved in will remember for a long time. It was like the crowd for an international match in terms of size but better, because they were local people rooting for their local team.

“It was also a great game of cricket, with some exceptional performances from the players on both sides that meant it went right down to the wire.

“The players came off and they were buzzing with the support from the crowd. Hopefully we’ll see more of that in the rest of the tournament.”

Notts Outlaws squad to face Worcestershire Rapids (from): Brendan Taylor, Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Alex Hales, Harry Gurney, Luke Wood, Matt Carter, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Brett Hutton, Jake Ball, Dan Christian, Ish Sodhi, Billy Root.


Buy your tickets for all five of Notts Outlaws’ remaining NatWest T20 Blast North Group games – played between July 26 and August 18 – here.