By Rob Barnett at Trent Bridge
Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell settled for avoiding relegation, having identified early in the season that his charges were weaker than some of their rivals.
Newell saw that his bowling attack lacked what others had and therefore did not expect much more than finishing just above the relegation zone, which Notts did albeit level on points with six-placed Somerset with whom they drew today.
Two wins from 16 championship games, both of which came by mid-May, tells its own story, although Notts did come 24 points ahead of the drop-zone.
“The only feeling really is relief because we’re going to survive, and that’s not what we set out to do in the start of the season,” he admitted.
“It was fairly clear early on to me that we were not as good a bowling team in particular as some of these teams we’re playing against and ultimately we have to accept that, but make sure we try to do something about that for next season and be competing in the top four rather than the bottom four.”
Notts’ attack was led in this last match of the term by Luke Fletcher and Harry Gurney, the latter taking a career-best 5-81 in Somerset’s first innings.
However, stalwart Andre Adams was missing with an Achilles injury and England international Ajmal Shahzad’s form did not warrant selection.
“I think people like Fletcher and Gurney have ended up carrying the bowling attack,” Newell continued.
“I think if we could bring a bit more quality in and get Andre back fit then we could have them as a support.
“I’ve mentioned an overseas bowler and Andre and hopefully Ajmal producing a little bit more of what he should be doing then we’d maybe have five or six seamers who can get us a little bit higher up the league.”
An overseas seamer would replace Australia batsman David Hussey, who today signed off after eight spells with the club he first joined in 2004.
Notts’ run-scoring has not be a problem, though, as their 47 batting points was the second-highest in Division One.
“To be fair to us the batting has done okay,” Newell said. “I think that with (James) Taylor, with (Michael) Lumb, with (Samit) Patel, with Riki (Wessels), with (Steven) Mullaney, hopefully with (Alex) Hales coming back into some four-day form, I’m banking on that being strong enough.
“I just think we need to add to the quality of our bowling. That is definitely what is winning teams the championship and it’s what’s caused us to be as low as we are we think.”
Despite Notts’ disappointing championship finish and reaching the Friends Life t20 quarter-finals, Newell emphasized the value of Saturday’s Yorkshire Bank 40 win.
“I’m quite pleased with that and it’s the first one-day trophy for an awful long time,” he added with understatement.
“It’s really hard to win a trophy and we shouldn't underestimate what we managed to do.”
For yet another year, Somerset skipper Marcus Trescothick had no trophy to cherish.
Indeed, Somerset also survived only when Derbyshire went down yesterday. Trescothick’s side were set 333 to win in 45 overs today but understandably showed no interest in chasing as they ended on 101 for one from 28.
Trescothick, who did not expect to be set a realistic target, was the man out, meaning he went without a first-class century for the first season since 1998.
“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “I think once the news came through about the Derby situation, then we were all very relieved and we were all over the feelings of not so much panic but concerned of where it was all going, how much pressure was going to be on the last couple of days.
Trescothick, who this evening was digesting the news that England limited-overs wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is leaving Somerset, did not discuss a target with Notts captain Chris Read.
“There was no conversations, nothing that came along between me and Chris or anything like that,” he revealed. “It was just a case of let's just get this day done and all put to bed.”