Luke Fletcher recorded career-best T20 bowling figures of five for 32 before Joe Clarke hit a 28-ball half-century as Notts Outlaws kicked off their 2022 Vitality Blast campaign with a four-wicket win over Worcestershire Rapids.

Fletcher took the wicket of Ed Barnard with his penultimate delivery of the innings to complete his second career five-for as the Rapids posted 164/7 after being put in.

Much of that was down to the 43-ball 66 hit by former New Zealand international Colin Munro, as no other visiting batter made more than 20.

In response, Clarke bulldozed the visiting attack to record a speedy 52 before Tom Moores hit 47 and Calvin Harrison’s winning boundary then saw the hosts over the line with two balls to spare.

Earlier, returning captain Dan Christian won his first toss in an Outlaws kit since doing so in the final of the 2020 Blast, and, just as he did then, opted to field first.

Fletcher struck early to remove Ed Pollock for 19 just as the opener was getting into his groove via consecutive maximums, though he went for one big strike too many as Alex Hales snaffled a mis-timed heave at mid-on.

Wicketkeeper Tom Moores then snaffled catches off captain Christian and Jake Ball, respectively, though the Rapids continued to drive forwards through Munro to be 56/3 after the powerplay.

The spin trio of Calvin Harrison, Samit Patel, and Matt Carter checked their progress and they dropped off somewhat to 86/3 at the halfway point, though Munro remained an ominous threat.

He marched to fifty even as Christian removed Jake Libby, who skied to Steven Mullaney for 15,  and found welcome support in captain Ben Cox’s 20 to see his side to 136/4 with four overs remaining.

However, it was the New Zealander’s dismissal, inevitably at the hands of the returning Fletcher via a smart catch from Samit Patel, that set off a collapse and led to the Rapids adding only 28 further runs from those four.

Fletcher followed up his dismissal of Munro by seeing Cox caught by Harrison on the midwicket boundary, before picking up two more in his final over once Ball had also snared a second.

The chase got off to a flier and even the early loss of Alex Hales did little to dent the charge as Clarke and Ben Duckett hoisted the scoring rate up to 12 per over as the former struck back-to-back boundaries to end the fifth.

Duckett made 29 from just 13 balls but was removed by Charlie Morris before Patel was also caught in the eighth over, though Clarke continued to rampage and hit his fifty at the end of the 11th over, with the hosts 99/3.

He did fall to a catch by Munro off D’Oliveira, but Moores took up the mantle and enjoyed the company of his captain to keep the Outlaws on course, with Christian bringing up the 150 with a swept six over the leg side.

Matthew Waite slowed up the progress with the wickets of Moores and Mullaney in the innings’ penultimate over, but an ice-cool ramp shot from Harrison meant just two were needed from the final over.

Christian put the spinning all-rounder on strike, and after setting himself with two dots, he was finally able to guide the fourth ball of Morris’ final over through the covers for four and complete an opening-night victory.


Be More Outlaw: The 2022 Vitality Blast at Trent Bridge

Notts Outlaws, the 2017 and 2020 Vitality Blast winners, return to T20 action at Trent Bridge this summer from Friday 27 May to Friday 1 July. Pin your green and gold colours to the mast by securing your seats now.

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Sunday 29 May, Lightning vs Southern Vipers (Charlotte Edwards Cup): Secure your seats...

Monday 30th May, Notts Outlaws vs Northamptonshire Steelbacks: Secure your seats…

Tuesday 31 May, Notts Outlaws vs Lancashire Lightning: Secure your seats…

Friday 17 June, Notts Outlaws vs Birmingham Bears: Secure your seats…

Tuesday 21 June, Notts Outlaws vs Leicestershire Foxes: Secure your seats…

Thursday 23 June, Notts Outlaws vs Derbyshire Falcons: Secure your seats…

Friday 1 July, Notts Outlaws vs Durham: Secure your seats…