Jake Libby knows exactly what it’s like to be a promising youngster looking to make a first-team breakthrough.
The opening batsman arrived at Trent Bridge midway through the 2014 season with a glowing reputation, having scored prolifically for Cornwall and Cardiff MCCU.
But he still had to ‘do his time’ at Academy and Second XI level – either side of a century on his senior Notts debut against Sussex, a superb innings of 108 – biding his time for the best part of a season-and-a-half before finally getting a run in the side.
“Carts took 10 wickets on his debut at Taunton, so that will give him confidence if he is picked again.
A similar situation has faced two of the Clubs current young guns, Matt Carter and Matt Milnes, but with the squad stretched due to injuries and international call-ups – the likes of Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, Harry Gurney, Paul Coughlin, Ben Kitt and Will Fraine are not available for the Specsavers County Championship Division One match at Somerset – their time may be now.
It already is, to a certain degree, for Lincoln-born Carter 22. After making five sporadic first-class appearances for Notts, he has been given an opportunity in the 50-over team this summer and taken it with both hands, claiming two four-wicket hauls in his first three matches for the Outlaws.
For his part, Nottingham-born Milnes, 23, has needed to be a little more patient. Named in a host of four and one-day squads this season, the right-armer seamer has yet to make his bow at the highest domestic level in either format, despite taking plenty of wickets in Second XI cricket.
Both men, however, have been named in Notts’ squad for the match at Taunton and one, or both, could play, depending on whether the pitch offers turn or not, with Mark Footitt and Billy Root the other non-regulars to come into the management’s thinking.
Having captained the pair in a recent stint of Seconds matches during the Royal London One-Day Cup group stages, Plymouth-born Libby, 25, is confident that neither of the pair would let themselves down and would have the mental resolve to cope with the situation.
“Both Carts and Milner have gone well in the games I have played and they will come into the reckoning because we are going to have to make changes at Taunton,” he says. “If they do get in, then all they can do is to keep doing what they have been doing in the Seconds.
“Carts has got a bit more of a record in first-class cricket and he took 10 wickets on his debut at Taunton, so that will give him confidence if he is picked again.
“Milner (Matt Milnes) bowls with very good line and length, can swing the ball and looks to hit the top of off stump at a decent pace.”
“He is tall and gets bounce, which is a big advantage for him, plus he’s handy with the bat, as he showed at Sussex last year. I’m a big fan of him and I’m glad he’s got an opportunity in the one-day side.
“Milner bowls with very good line and length, can swing the ball and looks to hit the top of off stump at a decent pace.
“I don’t think either of them would let anyone down or be overawed because both are playing well at the moment.”
Libby makes the trip down to his native south-west in a decent run of form. In the final two games in the County Championship before the white ball hiatus, he scored 54 against Hampshire and top scored in both innings in the defeat at home to Lancashire with 34 and 46.
Since carrying on his red-ball cricket for the Second XI, he has added a knock of 174 against Leicestershire and 57 and 55 not out against Durham.
Libby affirms: “I feel in good touch and it’s been good to keep things going and get some time out in the middle and it lifts you to put some decent scores on the board.
“From a first-team point of view I’m now just looking to start converting some of the starts I’ve had into big scores.”
“Like us, Somerset have started well and we know they are a strong side both in their batting and bowling departments.”
Notts head the Division One table after the first five games, but unbeaten Somerset are just seven points behind them in second, making for the prospect of an intriguing clash.
Taunton is not a place where Notts have fared particularly well in recent years – they last won there in 1985– but Libby says the players won’t worry about that.
“I didn’t realise that was the case, but we won their last time we played in the 50-over comp and I don’t think we can worry about what’s gone before,” insists Libby.
“Like us, they have started well and we know they are a strong side both in their batting and bowling departments.
If we have got aspirations of putting in a bid for the title it is a big game for us, but we know, like any game away, that you are going to have to play well to come away with a positive result.”
Left-arm seamer Harry Gurney has been named in a 14-man Notts squad for the match, having missed recent matches with a calf injury.
Nottinghamshire squad to face Somerset: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Mark Footitt, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Luke Wood, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Matt Carter, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (wkt), Ross Taylor, Billy Root.