A year ago, James Hayes' ambitions to be on the books of Notts, bowling at Trent Bridge and taking his maiden wicket for the First XI felt some way off.
But so it has come to pass for the 20-year-old, who believes his performance against Derbyshire, and prior opportunities against Warwickshire and Loughborough UCCE, stand him in good stead to move forward into the season.
The youngster has enjoyed his first run at a pre-season in Green and Gold, and capped the final fixture prior to the commencement of the County Championship with the scalp of county cricket stalwart Wayne Madsen.
The spell itself came at short notice - warned at Tea that he would be bowling after the break, despite being on 12th man duties - but the right-armer produced an inch perfect yorker to earn his dismissal, and says the momentum gained will be valuable.
“Generally, over the last few weeks, my accuracy has been good, I have been hitting a good area and getting results,” he said.
“So I was obviously delighted to get the wicket. I was just aiming to get out of the over by bowling full and straight, and it paid off. To get a player of his caliber out is quite something, and that, along with the way I bowled generally, gives me belief going forward.
“I’ve been able to prove to myself that I can hang around in this environment, and it has given me the confidence that I need."
A week prior to his prized scalp, Hayes was bowling in the middle at Trent Bridge for the first time against the students.
It had been a long time coming for the former Somerset County Age Group player, who first moved to Nottinghamshire prior to the 2021 season, and the chance to rub shoulders with greats of the county game has provided an important learning curve.
“The opportunity I had to play at Trent Bridge was amazing, and to be involved around the first team set up was great, seeing how players operate on a day to day basis and in their game scenarios," he continued.
“Brett Hutton has been unbelievable. We bowled a lot together through the winter, and we built a relationship. I think he knows what I need to hear at the top of my mark when I maybe haven’t bowled a good ball or I am not quite in rhythm.
“Also watching how he, Mull and Fletch go about their business, and how meticulous they are in their approach, is invaluable.
“The mindset of knowing I am prepared is hugely beneficial, it has been really enjoyable to come into the season feeling like I know my game, I have been able to bowl to my strengths, and I think that has translated to me having a few good spells,” the paceman continued.
“As a group we are confident because we have prepared well and, even in these pre-season games, we have shown we are ready.
“On a personal level, I’ve done myself justice in these games, but there is still a lot to work on. I’ve got an important week of training ahead before the season starts, but I am hopeful that I can take some momentum from these games and hit the ground running.”