LV= County Championship 2012
LV COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP 2012 REVIEW
As in 2011 the campaign got off to a flying start with a decisive victory, Worcestershire being beaten at home by 92 runs, even though the Notts batting failed in the first innings of the game – in fact in seven out of the ten matches where Notts batted first, the team’s total was less than 200. The difficulty of achieving a decent opening partnership, a point laboured in the past, seems to be a national malaise. In 2012 not a single century first wicket stand was realized AGAINST Notts. At least Hales and Wessels conquered that bogey (Notts didn’t achieve such a stand in 2011), they hit 171 together at Hove and later 168 versus Durham at Trent Bridge. The latter was the first such partnership by Notts at Trent Bridge since the balmy days of Bicknell and Gallian.
After the initial win, Notts travelled to Chester-le-Street, where they defeated Durham by 114 runs. Two rain-affected games followed, against Somerset at home and Worcester at New Road. In the latter match Notts were in a strong position before rain washed out the whole of the last day. A third victory came at the beginning of May, when Lancashire were easily overcome at Old Trafford. The home game against Middlesex was drawn, again rain interfered with play, but Notts achieved a fourth success at Hove, where the aforementioned first wicket partnership set the team off on a high note. On May 28 therefore Nottinghamshire were leading the table, though second placed Warwickshire had a game in hand. Notts had 101 points, Warwickshire 100. It was therefore frustrating when almost the whole of both second and third days of Notts 8thmatch, v Lancashire at Trent Bridge, were rained away; then Notts bowled out Middlesex at Uxbridge for a measly 98 (Adams 6-32), but a second innings century by Strauss prevented a Notts win.
However Warwickshire couldn’t avoid the rain so that with nine matches played, Warwickshire led Notts by a single point. A fortnight later, Andre Adams broke down – he was at this point the leading First Division bowler in England. It was a seminal moment, though not realized at the time. Indeed supporters were eagerly checking their fixture cards and noting that the final match of the summer was at Trent Bridge against, by coincidence, Warwickshire. The Championship might well be decided, as it had in 2010, on the last day of the season.
It was not to be. Adams effectively did not play again. The team had lost its crucial ingredient. Whilst Warwickshire forged ahead and took the Championship title with a match to spare, Notts failed to claim another victory and sank to fifth place – true one higher than in 2011, but in view of the first half of the year, disappointing.
As it happened the final fixture against Warwickshire turned out to be a fascinating contest, with Nottinghamshire coming very close to victory in the final overs of the fourth day, but of course, Warwickshire had only pride for which to play.
Looking at the Notts batting, the instant memory is of Chris Read scurrying to the crease to save the team from ignominy. It comes as a bit of a surprise to discover it’s the first time Read has topped the Notts batting averages, because he seems to have been doing a de Crespigny for the past decade. Read was also the only player to complete 1,000 first-class runs. The fact that he scored between 50 and 99 twice as many times as any other batsman in 2012 is testimony to his reliability.
At the start of the season, Notts opened with Hales and Edwards. In their first 12 opening partnerships the pair only really came off once. Edwards then gave way to Wessels, who had batted in the middle order, though he had missed several games through injury. He immediately flourished as an opener and Hales’ form rather fell away, before reviving in the later matches. Lumb, the newcomer from Hampshire, was given the first wicket down berth and was so successful that he regained a place in England’s One Day team. James Taylor, the other major debutant, found runs harder to score in the First Division, but also gained an England cap. Samit Patel seemed to be affected by his striving for a place in the England line-up, having made his Test debut during the winter, as well as being regularly picked for England’s One Day squad. He missed seven matches and for Notts was not as successful as he had been in 2011. Notts overseas player, Adam Voges was disappointing in Championship matches and had a much poorer season than in the past. Gurney, from Leicestershire, appeared in ten matches, almost outdoing Afford’s efforts of 1990 on the batting front.
If the Championship team missed Adams in the final part of the summer, it also missed Pattinson, whose bowling was confined to One Day matches He had suffered a back injury playing for Victoria and was not fit for county cricket until the end of May. Ben Phillips who had supposedly been recruited in 2011 for One Day matches played in 14 first-class matches – more than at any time since 2006 and bowled more overs than anyone else, despite being the oldest member of the playing staff. The two younger seam bowlers, Fletcher and Carter both had good spells, whilst Franks proved more useful as a batsman. Mullaney, whose bowling was employed in most One Day games, only sent down 16 overs and generally batted at no.5, before Read. Two young academy players, Wood and Kelsall, had one Championship match each. Kelsall opened the batting in the absence of Hales, in the final match, scoring a useful 35 in the second innings, whilst all-rounder Wood, helped Read turn the score v Surrey from a depressing 83-5 to 206-6, as well as taking three wickets in Surrey’s second innings. Nothing was seen of Elstone in first-class matches and he was released at the season’s close, which on the face of it was rather harsh. Two other players to be released were Edwards and Turner, the latter only played in Second XI matches in 2012.