Riki Wessels smashed 13 fours and five sixes as he warmed up for the start of the Vitality Blast with a sparkling 93 off just 33 balls for the Notts Outlaws against Essex at Grantham CC.
Using the first of the two Second XI T20 matches as preparation for the first home game of the competition for real against the Birmingham Bears on Wednesday (6.30pm start), Head Coach Peter Moores fielded a strong side that will make up the bulk of the defending champions first choice side in format.
And the high class of the team shone through as Wessels’ imperious innings, together with 58 from 29 balls by Tom Moores knock helped Notts post a colossal 237-5 off their 20 overs.
The home bowlers also got an excellent work-out, led by Luke Fletcher 5-15 and Matt Carter 2-31, as Essex were bowled out for 154, making for a winning margin of 83 runs.
Notts’ skipper Dan Christian won the toss and opted to bat, with Wessels dominating an opening partnership of 119 with Chris Nash (25 off 19 balls, four fours).
Both men fell in consecutive deliveries from Aaron Beard (2-24), but Moores took up the challenge by striking three fours and five sixes to keep up the high run rate.
Samit Patel (16) and Christian (10) chipped in with quicker than run-a-ball cameos before Billy Root added 17 not out off 13 balls late on.
In reply, the hosts put on 51 for the opening wicket before Harry Gurney dismissed Dan Lawrence (18) to make the breakthrough and Nick Browne (30) was bowled in the following over by Samit Patel.
Carter nipped out Michael Pepper (18) and Rishi Patel (13), who were both caught in the deep on the legside, leaving Essex on 87-4.
Overseas leg-spinner Ish Sodhi picked up the wicket of James Stamatis (7), but otherwise it was, from then on, the Fletcher show as the Bulwell bomber wrapped up victory with 2.2 overs to spare, three of his victims being bowled.
A much tighter second match saw an almost entirely new XI chosen, with only Matt Carter, Will Fraine and Billy Root remaining from the first match, with a more recognisable Second XI fielded.
This time, Essex won the toss and decided to bat first, losing Nick Browne (3) in the third over as he was caught by Lyndon James at mid-wicket from Luke Wood’s bowling.
The second wicket pairing Dan Lawrence (52 from 35 balls) and Michael Pepper (53 form 38 balls) then added 101 in 10.2 overs.
Rishi Patel (18), Aron Nijjar (17 not out) and James Stamatis (12) added valuable late order runs as Essex closed on 180-6 and Matt Carter finished with 2-39.
As several home batsman got themselves in and then got out, including Chris Gibson (17), Will Fraine (22), Billy Root (17), Jake Libby (18) and Luke Wood (10), Notts stumbled to 93-6 in the 14th over.
Victory hopes nosedived still further when it was soon 105-9 and the match seemed set for an early finish.
However, Liam Patterson-White (35 not out, 21 balls, three fours one six) and Matt Milnes (34 not out, 14 balls, 1 four, three sixes) had other ideas with a superb, unbeaten stand of 67.
But the pair simply ran out of balls to face, and the final Notts score of 172-9 left them nine runs short of claiming an unlikely win.
Four-day and 50-over captain Steven Mullaney is set to return to the squad for the Bears game after missing the warm-up on England Lions duty.
Notts Outlaws face Birmingham Bears at Trent Bridge in the UK's first Vitality Blast game of the year on Wednesday 4 July. Be part of it - secure your seats now...