England fast bowler Jake Ball was full of praise for the Welbeck CC ground at Sookholme as Notts Outlaws returned to the John Fretwell Sporting Complex.
Defending Royal London One Day Cup holders Notts lost by 49 runs to the Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
But Ball, a former Welbeck player, said: “It has been really nice apart from the result.
“The ground is looking immaculate and the groundsman produced a very good pitch, so we can’t grumble about that.
“We were just beaten by a better team on the day.”
Chasing 339 for nine, Notts were bowled out for 290 with 3.4 overs remaining.
Ball added: “During the last six overs of our chase we were level with them, but they had the wickets in hand in their innings.
As Fletch (Luke Fletchher) showed right at the end, the boundaries are reachable.
“It’s a good deck but we just didn’t keep enough wickets in hand.
“It’s going to be a tight league, the games come thick and fast. By the end of this week we’ll know better where we are.”
Half-centuries from Josh Cobb, Alex Wakeley and Adam Rossington, backed up by some slow left-arm guile from Graeme White, helped Steelbacks to victory.
Cobb top-scored with 78 from 90 balls, while Wakeley made 72 and Rossington added 50.
Harry Gurney, with two for 57, returned the pick of the bowling figures for Notts, with Jake Ball and Luke Fletcher also capturing two victims apiece.
In reply, Notts failed to string any significant partnerships together.
Steven Mullaney followed up last Thursday’s 70 against Lancashire with an innings of 71 but no-one else made a half-century.
Graeme White claimed three for 63 against his former county.
Northants first-team coach David Ripley said: “It’s all about how we played.
“It was tight towards the end with 100 needed (by Notts) from the last 10 overs.
“That was doable because Mullaney was playing well and we might have lost a tight game.
“If we had we would have still been a lot happier going home because it was the level of performance that was much improved.
“Our batters took some criticism after the last game,
“We had an honest chat about where we were and they dusted themselves off and played pretty well, with most people contributing.”
At the start of the day, having been put in by Mullaney, Northants were able to build useful stands, almost at will, on a good track, with a lightning fast outfield.
After Ball removed Ben Duckett for 19, the home side came under pressure as Richard Levi, Cobb and Wakeley took the score beyond 200 with 17 overs still to be bowled in the innings.
Cobb, who scored 56 against Leicestershire Foxes last Thursday, hit seven fours and three majestic sixes before hitting Billy Root’s off-spin to Ross Taylor at deep square leg.
Wakeley, passing 50 for the first time this season, also hit two maximums before being yorked by Fletcher, after a fourth-wicket stand of 65 with Rossington.
In the quest for quick runs, over the closing overs, Steven Crook twice cleared the ropes as he sped to an unbeaten 45 from just 28 deliveries.
The Outlaws lost four wickets inside the first 20.1 overs of their reply, including Riki Wessels, who made 47 from 54 balls.
White’s left-arm spin tore the heart out of the Notts middle-order, removing Taylor and Samit Patel before adding the prized scalp of the Outlaws captain to his list.
Mullaney had reached his 50 from 47 balls, with six fours and a six, and was keeping his side in contention until he was lbw sweeping across the line.
Billy Root made 36 and Fletcher plundered 29 from only 20 balls but his side’s race had been run long before then.
The victory brought an end to a dreadful sequence of results for Northants, who hadn’t won in Nottinghamshire in any form of the game since 2003.