Paul Franks hopes the 2018 North-South series will be altogether more competitive than last year’s edition, with the two sides preparing to renew battle later this month.
In 2017, when the series was held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the South cruised to a 3-0 whitewash, with Dawid Malan, now a regular in the England Test side, one of the star performers.
This time, held in Barbados, the series aims to give strong contenders for future international honours in white ball cricket the chance to pit their skills against each other.
And while Nottinghamshire’s Assistant Coach Franks – who will aid Paul Collingwood in coaching the North team – ultimately wants to see players from both sides excelling, his competitive streak means he also wants to see a much closer contest than 12 months ago.
“Both sets of players are going to be fighting hard to get a positive result, just as if they were playing for their county or country.”
The first two games of the North-South series – played as 50-over matches – will be held at the Kensington Oval on 18 and 21 March, and the last at the Three Ws Oval on 23 March.
“It will be interesting to see how the North players respond to what was a bit of a tanking last year,” said Franks. “Individuals will have their own aims of what they want to get out of the series, but nothing ever changes… winning games by taking wickets and scoring runs is what it’s all about.
“With that in mind, both sets of players are going to be fighting hard to get a positive result, just as if they were playing for their county or country.
“It’s going to be interesting for me working with Paul Collingwood. I’ve done little bits and pieces with him in the UAE a few years back and we’ve played extensively against each other and know each other quite well.
“He’s had a busy winter in Australia and now New Zealand and will have his own ideas how to coach the side, with me in the supporting role, but hopefully we can help the North team come out on top.”
Franks, along with Steven Mullaney, who will skipper the North side, has been out in Potchefstroom, South Africa for the early part of Notts’ pre-season tour this week.
The pair will travel back to the UK this weekend and then almost immediately fly out to the Caribbean, where the North will also be represented by the likes of Warwickshire’s Sam Hain, Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke, Lancashire's Keaton Jennings and, of course, a familiar face in Paul Coughlin.
Franks is delighted Mullaney has been given the opportunity to lead, but says it will not have too much bearing on his captaincy at Trent Bridge,
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Steven and a great acknowledgement of how far he has come with his game.”
He said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Steven and a great acknowledgement of how far he has come with his game, not just to be in the side but to lead it.
“I’m excited to see how he is going to lead what is a scratch team and how he gets everyone on board. He’s an active leader and wants to be involved.
“I’m sure he won’t be dwelling on it too much no matter how it goes, because it is a series in isolation ultimately, and he’ll have his own expectations when he leads Notts into our first friendly against Northants and then first Championship game at Lancashire.
“It a chance to switch off from the Notts stuff for a couple of weeks, and that’s what I’ll be encouraging him to do. He’ll catch up with Peter (Moores) as and when required, but it’s a chance to push his own claims for international recognition.”
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