By Rob Barnett at Trent Bridge
Reflecting on a season that saw Nottinghamshire win their first one-day competition for 24 years, captain Chris Read knows there is much work to be done on their four-day cricket.
Notts and opponents Somerset learnt they will play in LV= County Championship Division One for a seventh straight year around midday when Derbyshire were skittled for 103 by Warwickshire and therefore relegated.
Until then, Notts and Somerset were sweating on a healthy Derbyshire win sending one of them down, although that looked unlikely overnight when Warwickshire had them 44 for five in reply 391 for nine declared.
Read’s Outlaws were celebrating on Saturday after beating Glamorgan in the Yorkshire Bank 40 final at Lord’s, but this week needed to ensure their championship survival - a situation he is unhappy with.
“Any season when you win a trophy is a good season,” said Read, who is on the verge of signing a new contract to keep him at the club.
“It’s a fantastic effort to come away as YB40 champions, to have that against our name after a big drought in terms of one-day trophies.
“But we have to look at the way we performed in four-day cricket and just staying up in Division One is not good enough for a club of this size.”
“With the squad of players we’ve got we should be in Division One so to be in this predicament coming into this last game obviously reflects on a pretty mediocre season. At the same time (we’re) thrilled to be staying up.”
Knowing Derbyshire were up against it today, Read admits Notts were aware of events 17 miles away.
“We were getting updated on how Derby were going,” he added. “I’d like to think we were pretty focused on what we needed to do.
“Ultimately we came into this game, we needed 10 points to stay up if Derby pulled off a full-points victory. So far in this game we’ve done everything we needed to attain those 10 points and possibly more.”
Somerset began the day on 183 for two and, thanks mainly to a 248-run stand between James Hildreth and Nick Compton, gained a crucial fourth batting point that means Notts must win to finish above them in sixth.
With a first-innings lead of 34, the hosts made a flying start to their second knock thanks to Steven Mullaney’s 50-ball 59. However, Read refused to confirm that they will chase victory tomorrow, the last day of the season, when they will resume 173 ahead with seven wickets left.
“We’ll see what comes our way,” he continued.
“I don’t think Steve Mullaney would have played any differently. He played the ball on its merits and he got a few out of the middle of the bat early on and got us off to a bit of a flier.
“Ultimately it would be lovely to be in a position to force a victory but we’ll have to wait to see.”
Somerset director of cricket Dave Nosworthy explained that achieving championship safety was a short-tem goal accomplished.
“The last few weeks it was an objective we set ourselves to achieve knowing this season hadn’t gone well at all and we got ourselves into this position; we needed to get ourselves out of it,” he said.
“It’s been a concerted effort. I’m very proud of that lads for achieving that.”
Hildreth’s season’s-best 161 and Compton’s 87 underpinned an impressive recovery from 11 for two yesterday, although they lost their last eight wickets for 113 runs to be all out for 372 with Harry Gurney returning a career-best 5-81.
“Hildy was unbelievable today. Lets look at that as a positive to start off with,” Nosworthy added. “And a few of the other guys contributed around him. Nick was again very good.
“To lose wickets wasn’t our intention to do that, some soft dismissals. One just wonders how much of a mental factor it was around we had secured first division status.
“But we’ve had that discussion; we’re professionals and we’re better than that and there are lessons to be learnt.”