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Notts begin One Day Cup defence against Lancashire

Notts are in action on Thursday.
Notts are in action on Thursday.

Despite a disappointing home defeat over the weekend, Nottinghamshire supporters can take consolation from the fact that the side proudly sits on top of the Specsavers County Championship Division One table after five matches - and will remain there for at least a month as the white ball season now kicks in.

Notts Outlaws triumphed in both short formats last year and will begin their defence of the Royal London One-Day Cup over the next few days.

On Thursday afternoon, the Outlaws open their campaign with a trip to Emirates Old Trafford to face Lancashire Lightning in the first televised match of the season, before Northamptonshire Steelbacks are the visitors on Sunday for the annual fixture at Welbeck Cricket Club.

After a topsy-turvy few weeks, with Notts winning three and losing two of their opening five red ball matches, assistant coach Paul Franks is looking forward to the return of the 50-over competition.

“This has probably come at a good time for us,” he explained. “That was a really tough defeat for us to take (last weekend) but we’ve got a little break from it now, where we can concentrate our focus on trying to qualify for the Royal London.

“We’ve got two games coming in the space of four days and we’ve got improvements to make. We don’t have much time to dwell on defeats and as defending champions we want to start the competition well.”

Notts lifted the Royal London Cup last year after a thrilling victory over Surrey in the final. The man-of-the-match award went to Alex Hales for a glorious innings of 187 not out, the highest score made in a Lord’s final.

Hales won’t be around for the first few group matches this year as he is in India, playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.

For varying reasons, more than half of the side that defeated Surrey won’t be available for selection this time around, with Notts carrying one of the smallest first team squads in the country.

“It is what it is,” said Franks. “We’re not going to change it, it’s not one of those situations where we are going to be bringing three or four players in overnight. We knew what we’d got and nothing will change for the Royal London.

“Alex will come back when Alex comes back - and he will offer greater strength in depth.

“And we’ll have more strength in depth, in terms of Ish Sodhi and Dan Christian, when the T20 comes around but we knew what we were getting into. We weren’t prepared to sacrifice quality, we have had lots of players who want to come to Notts but we had to decide what we want Notts players to look like, we could have five or six other players on our staff but would it be worth it?

“Would they be worthy of threatening a place in the team? They are the constant questions we are asking and players very rarely become available at this time of year on the domestic circuit anyway.”

With a strong likelihood that Jake Libby is unlikely to be used in white ball cricket, and with Stuart Broad preparing for his international summer with England, Billy Root is expected to feature for the first time this season and there may also be opportunities for young quicks Ben Kitt and Matt Milnes.