By Richard Edwards
Peter Moores is confident his Nottinghamshire side can repeat their 2017 success in the T20 Blast – but admits that part of the enduring attraction of the competition is its unpredictability.
No side has ever managed to win the tournament back-to-back and the democratic nature of the competition has ensured that the last two victors have resided in Division Two of the County Championship rather than the domestic top flight.
This year, the likes of Northants, Leicestershire and Sussex can’t be discounted from continuing that trend and, regardless of what happens, Moores is backing supporters from all 18 counties to have an absolute blast.
“That’s part of the excitement of it,” says Moores. “Some counties maybe target it more than others, with some of the bigger counties trying to compete on two or three different fronts. But what it does is make for an excellent competition. There are no easy games.
“Northampton played some excellent cricket in the past two or three years and they’re always tough.
“They have some really dangerous players, with people like Ben Duckett at the top of the order, who can really hurt you.
“That’s what makes it exciting; that’s what makes people want to watch it – there are certainly no dead rubbers, that’s for sure.
“There’s real variation in every sense now.
“You’ve got the bigger grounds like the Oval, Trent Bridge and then Headingley and Old Trafford, but you’ve also got grounds like Derby and Northants, where the atmosphere is absolutely electric, the same with Taunton.
“What I do like is that the crowd really get involved in the game, which is what it should be like. At the end of the day we’re in the entertainment business and that’s what T20 really brings to English cricket.”
He’s not wrong.
Since its inception in 2003, the annual T20 party has not only offered counties a financial lifeline, it has also come to define the summer.
There are plenty of county members who will argue the T20 Blast’s continual ability to bring people through the gate negates any requirement for an additional tournament along franchise lines.
And the appeal of watching cricketers like Dan Christian on a regular basis has certainly appealed to Nottinghamshire regulars.
The Aussie all-rounder signed a new two-year deal at Trent Bridge back in December.
And Moores believes he’ll be a key figure as Notts look to achieve something that no team has been able to do since that first competition in 2003.
“He has played a lot of T20 around the world and he has the right balance,” says Moores.
“Dan is a good performer. He plays so well at the times when the game sits on the line. Those people who play in the back half of Twenty20 have to be pretty cool customers.
“You get a couple of dot balls bowled at you and, all of sudden, there’s quite a lot of pressure on you. Dan has played in so many tournaments across the world and he knows how to handle that, he has that in his locker. He’s got this unbelievable power that he can unleash when we need to have big overs.
“We’ve got a lot of power hitters – Rikki Wessels and Alex Hales did so well for us up front (last season) – and we’ve got good death bowlers in Harry Gurney, Jake Ball and Luke Fletcher.
“We’re confident but there are a lot of good sides in the competition and you need a bit of luck. We had a semi-final against Hampshire last year and we just sneaked home to win it – you need those things to go your way.”
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