Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket Mick Newell has pulled no punches in a player-by-player assessment of the county’s 2011 season for the local press.
Newell had high praise for Andre Adams, Alex Hales, Darren Pattinson and the captain Chris Read in an end-of-term report for the Nottingham Evening Post.
But he was much less complimentary about several others such as Steven Mullaney, Neil Edwards and even Luke Fletcher.
Mullaney failed to build on the promise he had shown in his first season at Trent Bridge after moving south from Lancashire, scraping past 500 runs in the County Championship despite playing in all 16 matches, and taking only five wickets with his medium pace.
“In one-day cricket he has made regular contributions but in four-day cricket he has been very poor and needs to develop both aspects of his game,” says Newell’s report card. “Picked ahead of Ali Brown, did not chip in the runs we had hoped.”
Criticism of Edwards was also unavoidable, after the opener managed 172 runs from 14 innings at an average of 15 – not helped, like so many other Notts openers before him, by having to play on mostly green Trent Bridge pitches. He lost his place to Karl Turner late in the season after the youngster from Durham had shown promise in the second team, and Newell hopes that Turner will agree to stay on for 2012.
However he has not yet given up hope on Edwards. “He has been disappointing this summer, but somebody has to grasp the opening berth alongside Alex Hales and it could be him,” Newell says of the former England under-19 left-hander from Cornwall. “Undoubtedly has the talent, but that alone is not enough.”
Fletcher would seem to have had a much better year, having taken 36 wickets in 12 Championship appearances and also made a decent contribution to the county’s Twenty20 success. “Did well in four-day cricket, stayed fit for the whole season, and contributed in all formats,” Newell concedes.
But an iron fist then emerges through the velvet glove, which the burly 23-year-old local lad experienced in May when he was suspended for breaching the club’s disciplinary code. “His performances dropped off a little bit as he put some weight on over the summer and he has to keep that down so he bowls as quickly in September as in April.”
Newell identifies Harry Gurney, who has followed Stuart Broad’s route to Trent Bridge from Leicester, and Andy Carter, if he can avoid further injuries, as key figures for 2012 in a seam attack that will again feature Adams, Pattinson, Fletcher and Paul Franks. He stresses the importance of further development by Jake Ball, Scott Elstone, Sam Wood and Brett Hutton, praises Graeme White for his late-season performances, and suggests that Riki Wessels is likely bat lower down the order in future Championship appearances.
Michael Lumb is likely to be given a run in the number three position behind Hales and either Edwards or Turner after joining from Hampshire, and Newell suggests that the county may look to make a third signing from the domestic market to follow Lumb and Gurney given the ongoing uncertainty over the availability of overseas players such as David Hussey and Adam Voges.
However they will definitely look to give their t20 team a boost from overseas, with the possible absence of Samit Patel on England one-day duty creating a vacancy for a spinning all-rounder.