As part of a six-part series, is looking back at the Green and Golds’ exploits in a 2021 season which featured fresh faces, a red-ball resurgence and a number of standout performances.

As the longest day of the English summer beckoned, the darling of the middle cricketing months, the Vitality Blast, made its return.

After Dan Christian led the Outlaws to a memorable second Blast triumph in early October 2020, a return to T20 action in June felt altogether more familiar.

The Chelmsford rain that prevented a result in the Green and Golds’ final red-ball action for a month down was luckily absent as the white-ball showpiece event took centre stage, albeit Brett Hutton did find ample time to claim his first five-wicket haul back in Notts colours against Essex.

After eight matches of the LV= Insurance County Championship, Steven Mullaney’s troops had a record of three wins, three draws and two defeats.

The same man would be entrusted with taking the Outlaws into battle in the shortest format, following Christian’s richly-deserved Australia call-up.

As defending champions, an opening on Sky beckoned and with it, a trip to New Road.

Members hoping to see the galloping strides of Matt Carter in T20 yellow didn’t have to wait long, the wily off-spinner prizing out Brett D’Oliveira and Rapids skipper Moeen Ali in quick succession.

The assorted cameras also got their first glimpse of Calvin Harrison, the young leg-spinning all-rounder who had first been mentioned in Nottinghamshire circles following a pre-season century against the club for Oxford UCCE.

Harrison’s story would be one that was well-discussed across the cricketing landscape come the season’s end.

Having reduced the hosts to 152, Joe Clarke and Alex Hales produced a powerplay power-hitting masterclass before the Rapids’ bowlers bit back.

Ultimately, two runs were needed for victory from the final ball and, following a scampered single and a run out, a tie was the end result, an outcome that the Outlaws would become all too familiar with over the coming month.

A return to home comforts couldn’t hand Mullaney’s men a first victory, downed by the Bears on a subdued Friday night at Trent Bridge, the caps on crowds still only allowing 4,000 of the Notts faithful to cheer on their side.

Better fortunes were to come on the road, though, with Messrs Clarke and Hales each picking up the mantle to each secure two points.

First, Joe Clarke tore eyes away from England’s Euro 2020 efforts with a breath-taking display of batting, his 65-ball 136 against Northants the highest score by an Outlaw and his first T20 ton for the club.

Next, a trip to cricket’s most northern English outpost in Durham brought the best out of Hales, the tall opener using his long levers to great effect on his way to an unbeaten 96.

The Outlaws returned to the hallowed turf with 14 and 13-run victories under their belts, and the margin would get tighter before any breathing space was allowed.

Battling the inclement weather and their fiercest of rivals, Samit Patel came to the fore with an all-round performance of the magnitude we’ve become used to seeing from the natural born thriller.

His 32-ball 64 elevated the Outlaws to 152-6 from their 15 overs, the Falcons responding with half-centuries of their own from Luis Reece and Leus du Plooy.

During a game in which the run rate was hovering at ten, Patel was unperturbed, sending down his three overs for just 14 runs, handing the Green and Golds the spoils by just two runs.

It was tighter still on the visit to Emirates Old Trafford, the two sides scoring 172 from their 20 overs, the Outlaws involved in their second tie of group stages.

From the tightest of outcomes to the heftiest of drubbings.

As the very first ball was sent down at Trent Bridge on 22 June, the Rapids looked to be in trouble.

The visitors never recovered from a woeful powerplay, orchestrated by Patel's barely believable return: 4-1-4-3.

Jake Ball, an ever present with his consistent wicket taking across the tournament up to this point, chipped in with three of his own as the Rapids posted just 86-8 from their 20 overs.

The total proved anything but a match for Clarke and Hales, who duly notched up another Outlaws victory in just 6.2 overs.

A third tie in eight matches followed in the second A52 derby before Hales found a new bowling attack to feast upon.

The 32-year-old added an unbeaten 101 to his early efforts at Chester-le-Street before Carter’s 3-17 ensured Notts closed out the month with a victory, Lightning sent on their way seven runs short.


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