Read delighted with Notts squad
Skipper Chris Read is hoping Nottinghamshire have found the missing links as they begin their hunt for a third LV= County Championship title in eight seasons.
Read oversaw the victorious campaign two years ago as the county scooped the biggest prize in the domestic game in a thrilling final-day finish.
However, last year was less productive as Notts struggled to rediscover that form and had to settle for finishing sixth.
The winter has been productive for the club, though. As well as winning the race to sign England Lions captain James Taylor, Notts have also brought in promising left-arm seamer Harry Gurney and batsman Michael Lumb.
“I am very much looking forward to the season,” Read told ecb.co.uk. “I am looking forward to leading a team full of youth, as well as some experienced and very talented cricketers.
“We have made some changes over the winter and have some new recruits. Harry Gurney is a left-armer, which is something we have missed since Ryan Sidebottom left; he looks a very exciting prospect.
“James Taylor has a fantastic record in county cricket and we are looking forward to seeing him play here at Trent Bridge and hoping he can put up the same numbers in Division One cricket.
“He will boost our batting line-up along with Michael Lumb, who is vastly experienced. He has had some injury problems and is chomping at the bit to get going.”
The trio will no doubt make a difference to Nottinghamshire, whose success in 2010 followed up another title-winning year in 2005.
Read was also part of that side, albeit not as captain, and is eyeing medal number three this time round.
“We’re desperate to get back to challenging,” he added. “It is our ultimate aim every season to win the championship.
“I think it is the premier competition we play in and also the hardest one to win. In my time at the club, we have won it twice and they rank up there as the best achievements of my career.
“We will be looking to repeat that this year.”
Read, though, is under no illusions about the challenge facing his men, insisting this year’s Division One is the strongest he has seen.
“It is extremely unpredictable,” said the former England international. “This year looks the strongest Division One there has possibly ever been.
“Looking at the sides that have come up, Surrey look very strong on paper and Middlesex look a good side.
“They will have some of their internationals for some of the season as well. You cannot rule anyone out. Every game is a tough game.”
Much like many clubs of their stature, Nottinghamshire can often be a victim of their own success, with many of their players representing England.
Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann will probably only play a handful of games for the county this season, while Samit Patel is also part of the fold in all forms of the game.
Taylor and Alex Hales, meanwhile, will likely spend some of the summer on England Lions duty to further stretch Notts’ resources.
Read, though, insists they are prepared for that eventuality.
“Having Broady and Swanny contracted with England, we know we are not going to see too much of them,” he added. “Every time we do, it is a bonus.
“It is a lot harder to predict with guys like Samit Patel, Alex Hales and James Taylor, so we have to build a squad around that.
“People often say we have done really well because players are missing, but, ultimately, it is about preparing a squad, not just a team.
“We need to have all eventualities covered.”
Should they, indeed, strike that balancing act, it would take a brave man to bet against Notts again being towards the top of Division One come September.