Notts banish Newell's worries
Director of cricket Mick Newell admitted he feared the worst several times before Nottinghamshire clinched the LV= County Championship with less than an hour of the season remaining.
Notts began their wild celebrations only after collecting nine points against Lancashire at Old Trafford in the final game of the campaign.
With Somerset failing to beat Durham and Yorkshire losing to Kent, Notts’ haul was sufficient to take them top of the table - level on points with Somerset but crowned champions by virtue of more wins.
Notts boasted a 16-point cushion at the top of the table with three matches to play and a game in hand, but successive defeats to Durham and Yorkshire trimmed that to a meagre two heading into the final week of the season.
That had become a six-point deficit come this morning following three rain-ravaged days in Manchester, and the chances of Notts scoring 400 and taking three Lancashire wickets receded further when overnight rain delayed the start of play by an hour.
Notts, however, defied the odds, and Newell's own expectations to pull off one of the most remarkable championship triumphs in the history of this famous competition.
He told ecb.co.uk: “There have been a number of times when I couldn't see us winning it: last week against Yorkshire - 59 all out was a disaster for us - then this morning.
“We've been criticised in the last couple of weeks for bottling it, so to come up with a performance like that, I'm very, very pleased.”
Notts deserve infinite credit not only for their achievement, but for the fact they succeeded without any collusion with Lancashire in terms of forfeited innings and pre-arranged fourth-innings targets.
Newell himself admitted last night that the “best option” of Notts winning the title would be to set up the possibility of a positive result, giving Lancashire a realistic target to chase and hoping Notts could bowl them out.
“In some ways it’s more satisfying to have won it in that way,” he added. “Nobody can say Lancashire gave us anything – they tried their socks off, they worked hard, they bowled properly, they fielded well.
“They certainly didn’t come out to bat with the intention of losing three wickets. We had to work hard to get there.
“Some people might have looked at the last game, had it have been a contrived result, and said that’s not great.
“But to win it like that, people will look it as an honest and fair way to win. I’m very proud.”
Newell won the championship as a Notts player in 1987 and as a coach in 2005 – this is their sixth pennant in all – but neither came close to matching the excitement and nervous tension of today.
“That’s definitely as exciting as I can remember in my career,” he said.
“It’s been a very unique way to win the county championship and it’s been all the more exciting for that.
“Being nine down was hard for us, with 10 runs to get,” he added, referring to the moment when Andre Adams’ departure left Notts tottering on 390 for nine and the title in the balance.
“It was like having a run-chase and then having to bowl somebody out. It’s been a fantastic day and a great advert for cricket.”