Nottinghamshire’s cricketers return to action in the Specsavers County Championship this week, with an away trip to face Northamptonshire at New Road.
Their week of inactivity, coupled with Worcestershire’s success over Leicestershire, has seen the New Road side take a nine point lead at the top of the Division Two table, the first time that Notts have been toppled from pole position this season.
Roles are reversed this week, with Worcestershire resting and Notts eager to return to winning ways to keep alive their quest to win three domestic titles in one season.
With the Royal London One-Day Cup and the NatWest T20 Blast trophy already secured by the Trent Bridge side, they know that victories in each of their last two fixtures will be enough to complete a first domestic treble since Warwickshire won three trophies in the 1994 season.
Notts could guarantee promotion this week, by winning the match and taking at least four bonus points from the fixture. That outcome would possibly set up a dream finale to Chris Read’s glittering career. Their 39-year old captain retires from the game at the end of the season and couldn’t go out on a bigger high than by lifting aloft the Division Two crown at Hove.
Before then, head coach Peter Moores’ side must concentrate on the task at hand. Northamptonshire still harbour outside hopes of sneaking into one of the two promotion places but they begin this week’s match 29 points behind Notts, with two rounds remaining.
The sides met at Trent Bridge last month, with Notts winning by 163 runs, an outcome that has been all-too-familiar in recent meetings.
Across all three competitions Northants have only won one of the last 21 matches against Notts (2016 NatWest T20 Blast semi-final) and they haven’t defeated them in the championship since 2002.
Nottinghamshire’s starting eleven will show at least three changes, with Alex Hales and Jake Ball away on England duty and with Brendan Taylor having returned to Zimbabwe. With his wife and young family back in his homeland, Taylor has called time on his stint in county cricket and is expected to return to the international fold shortly.
Billy Root, who scored a century for the second eleven this week, and Tom Moores, will both be hoping to feature in the championship side for the first time this season.