County Championship – Topped Group 1
Third in Division 1
Royal London Cup – Fifth in Group
Vitality T20 Blast – Quarter-final
Captain Steven Mullaney, County Championship and T20
Peter Trego, Royal London Cup
A season that saw a welcome return to red-ball form ended with frustration as that improvement brought no recognition in terms of Notts’ position for the start of the next County Championship.
At the end of the 2021 season, the ECB announced that for 2022 the County Championship would revert to the two-division system that had obtained in 2019 and that places in those divisions would be based on the 2019 league tables. Thus, despite a very encouraging campaign, Nottinghamshire would again find themselves in Division Two for the next season. Promotion would be an achievable target if they could sustain the performances of 2021.
In the second summer of re-vamped competition due to the Covid-19 pandemic – further disrupted by the delayed introduction of The Hundred – the Championship began with three groups of six teams. The top two sides from each group then formed a second ‘top tier’ (the other counties went into two ‘divisions’). The winners of that new top tier would be County Champions and first and second placed sides would compete for the Bob Willis Trophy in a one-off ‘final’.
Counties carried forward half the points they scored from the two matches against the county in their original group and did not play that team in the division stage. This meant that although Nottinghamshire topped their group of six, they had the least points to carry forward as they had lost (twice) to the other team – Warwickshire – that also qualified.
The season began with the signing of a new fast bowler – South African Dane Paterson – but it was a more established star that set the tone. Stuart Broad was able to play the first five County Championship games and his skill and experience not only helped get Notts off to a promising start, three wins and a draw in those five matches, but was also felt in the dressing room where team-mates praised his example and encouragement.
By the time Broad joined his England colleagues, Luke Fletcher had already taken two five-wicket hauls and Dane Paterson had found his range in English conditions. These two accounted for more than 100 wickets between them and were among the most potent opening bowling partnerships in the country.
On a cold, wet and fore-shortened day in May, Trent Bridge was able to welcome members back into the ground for the Championship game v Worcestershire. Despite the weather, there was a reasonable early season crowd, just glad to be allowed to watch some cricket again.
Nottinghamshire topped their Group table with 151 points from four wins, five draws and just two losses and 55 bonus points (26 batting, 29 bowling), the most of any county side. In the Division stage, they finished third, just half-a-point behind second-placed Lancashire with two wins from the five matches, and thus narrowly missed out on the season finale.
Ben Slater led the batting charts with 837 runs @39.86 and along with Haseeb Hameed (679 runs @37.72) got Notts off to solid starts; Hameed’s return to his early career form was rewarded with a recall to the England squad for the Tests against India and the winter Ashes tour.
Tom Moores, benefiting from keeping to the country’s most consistent attack, led the national keepers’ charts with 54 dismissals (including two stumpings). Although Fletcher and Paterson led the seam department, they were well supported by the returning Brett Hutton who received his county cap.
At the end of the season, Ben Compton, Peter Trego (who retired from the game) and Tom Barber left the staff. Only Compton appeared in the Championship in 2021 and he signed for Kent on a two-year contract in late October.
Three players – Paterson, Matthew Montgomery and Sam Northeast – made their debuts for Notts with Northeast, who joined on a short-term contract from Hampshire as cover when Hameed got the England call, featuring in just two games. He joined Glamorgan at the end of the season.
For players to make their First-Class debut as a ‘sub’ is not now particularly uncommon but Dane Schadendorf may have created something of a record when he was substitute for a player who was himself ‘subbing’!
It happened in Nottinghamshire’s County Championship game against Derbyshire in July 2021. Regular first team wicket keeper Tom Moores was out injured and Ben Duckett was keeping in his place…only for Duckett to get called up mid-game into the England squad.
Zimbabwe-born Schadendorf thus found himself thrust into first-team action and became the twelfth player on the Notts scorecard for that innings – Duckett having been 69no when he got the England call.
The wicket-keeper batter acquitted himself pretty well, scoring 24 in his only innings and taking four catches when Derbyshire batted again.
With The Hundred taking players from across the counties (and beyond), the annual 50-over competition, the Royal London Cup, was identified as a ‘development’ competition to help the 18 Counties bring on promising young players. Under the captaincy of Peter Trego, Notts did exactly that, bringing Academy youngsters Joey Evison, Lyndon James, Fateh Singh, Sam King and Liam Patterson-White into the team, with Dane Schadendorf joining them.
Due to his Test selection, Haseeb Hameed, who was originally going to be captain during the Tournament, was replaced as skipper by Peter Trego.
Slater was named as Notts Royal London player of the season, extending his formidable List-A record over the course of the 2021 campaign by scoring 395 runs across his eight innings at an average of 56.43.
Notts finished with 8 points from their eight-game programme and ultimately finished fifth (albeit only 2 points behind group winners Glamorgan). This was a particular disappointment for home fans as Trent Bridge had been chosen to host the final, which was contested by Glamorgan and Durham with the Welsh side clinching their fourth 50-over title.
Notts Outlaws went into the 2021 Vitality Blast campaign as defending champions and looked set to at least make the semi-finals only to subside to a disappointing defeat by Hampshire, at home, at the quarter final stage.
Preparations for the Blast were hit when influential skipper Dan Christian received an international call-up by Australia for their tours of West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August. Club Captain Steven Mullaney was appointed as T20 skipper in his stead. Notts topped the North group recording nine victories and three games tied.
Leg-spinner Calvin Harrison proved to be the find of the tournament, being Notts’ leading wicket-taker with 20 wickets @13.90 and the second most economical bowler (6.78 RPO) behind Samit Patel. Such was his success, he was selected as a Wild Card pick for the Manchester Originals in The Hundred competition which commenced immediately after the group stages of the Blast.
Patel – having elected to concentrate on white-ball cricket – was Notts’ Vitality Blast Player of the Season; each of his 16 scalps were top-six batters, 10 of those being openers. His economy of 6.63 was the best of any bowler to have taken 13 or more wickets. The 36-year-old also finished as the Outlaws’ fourth-highest run-scorer, scoring 309 runs at an average of 30.90. His exemplary efforts saw him named the PCA’s Vitality Blast Player of the Year.
Away from county cricket, Trent Bridge was awarded a Test Match v India and a T20 International v Pakistan. This latter was played in July with an almost full house as part of HM Government’s programme of ‘special events’ to measure the effectiveness of Covid requirements. Spectators were required to show a valid NHS Covid Pass to confirm their vaccination status before entry. In a foretaste of their passage to the World T20 semi-final, Pakistan emerged comfortable winners by 31 runs, despite a blazing century from England’s Liam Livingstone.
The Test Match was intriguingly poised on day five only for the British summer weather to intervene and rain meant the two sides had to settle for the draw and two World Test Championship points each. Highlight for England, as so often in 2021, was the batting of skipper Joe Root who scored a half-century in the first innings and one of his six Test hundreds of the year in the second; Ollie Robinson, in his first season as a Test player took 5-85 in India’s first innings.
The county marked a number of significant anniversaries in 2021. In September, a group of players were invited back to Trent Bridge to commemorate the County Championship win of forty years earlier – that 1981 squad being the first since 1929 to secure the title for Notts.
Even older milestones were marked with talks, exhibitions and events. There was the 150th Anniversary of WG Grace’s first appearance at Trent Bridge in a County match against Gloucestershire (in the course of which the Great Man – naturally – scored the first Championship century at the ground). A hundred years before, the first recorded cricket match in the county was played – Nottingham v Sheffield on The Forest. The 250th anniversary was marked with a walking cricket game, also on The Forest, and lunchtime talks during matches at Trent Bridge.
The club, its members and supporters were saddened to learn of the death, aged 86, of Peter Wynne-Thomas, Historian and Librarian at NCCC and a former President. His knowledge and passion for the game and for Notts cricket in particular were legendary and he was a founding member of the Association of Cricket Statisticians. ‘PWT’ will be memorialised in the Trent Bridge Library that bears his name.