Jon Culley: Notts' success is proof tons don't win prizes – team spirit does

County Focus: We don't play on flat wickets at Trent Bridge and while that means our top-order can struggle, a 60 from someone further down the card can be worth a lot more
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The Independent Online

Cricket's insatiable appetite for statistics inevitably draws attention towards the performance of the individual, which is one reason why Somerset were considered unlucky not to break their 120-year duck when they finished runners-up in the 2010 County Championship.

The Taunton favourite James Hildreth, who captained England Lions on tour in the Caribbean earlier this year, was unrivalled in his accumulation of centuries in the competition, compiling no fewer than seven in his aggregate of 1,440 runs. Marcus Trescothick, his Somerset captain, numbered four in a total of 1,397.

Yorkshire, who finished third, had contributions of 1,200 runs or more from three batsmen – Anthony McGrath, Jacques Rudolph and Adam Lyth, who was the most prolific scorer in the First Division with 1,509. Contrast that with Nottinghamshire, for whom no individual made more than Chris Read's 916 runs over the season, although the three overseas batsmen employed – Hashim Amla, David Hussey and Adam Voges – did at least tot up 1,030 between them. Yet Read's team took the title, the determining factor being that they won seven matches to Somerset's and Yorkshire's six. In a game that celebrates individual achievement, it was teamwork that ultimately earned the rewards.

Nottinghamshire have carried forward their winning habit into 2011, opening with some scratchy performances yet somehow winning all three of their Championship matches to date. Two were from positions in which they might easily have lost, most startlingly against Yorkshire at Headingley, where they trailed by 193 on first innings yet wound up winning by 58 after Yorkshire's second innings imploded. "I wouldn't want to get into the situation we found ourselves in at Headingley too often but we do seem to find ways to win games," said the Notts director of cricket, Mick Newell. "We have not played fantastically well so far and it shows the character in the team.

"We don't play on flat wickets at Trent Bridge and while that means that our top-order batsmen can struggle, a 60 or 70 from someone further down the card can be worth a lot more, and that has been a strength."

The fixture computer has determined that Yorkshire have had to wait only two weeks for the opportunity to avenge their catastrophic Headingley defeat, yet return to Trent Bridge with their supporters already wondering whether the title hopes of Andrew Gale's side have been overblown. Yorkshire have lost to Durham as well as Notts and Gale believes his largely young side need to develop a mentality more like their opponents.

"There have been some good individual performances, but we need to start playing as a team," Gale said.

McGrath, who has sciatica, gives way to Joe Sayers in a Yorkshire team that includes Ryan Sidebottom, making an early return to the ground that was home for seven seasons until last year. Notts will make late checks on the fitness of leading wicket-taker Andre Adams, who has an elbow injury, and Paul Franks.

James Anderson's determination to bring public attention back to his outstanding form in the Ashes series, rather than his poor performance in the World Cup, should benefit from joining an in-form Lancashire team when he begins his preparations for the international summer at Edgbaston, where Warwickshire welcome back his England team-mates, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott.

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