Nottinghamshire return to red ball action at the weekend, with a trip to face their nearest challengers at the top of the Specsavers County Championship.
With three wins from their opening five matches, Notts are the early table-toppers in Division One but after a month of one-day cricket they now face a huge test against second-placed Somerset at Taunton.
A year ago Peter Moores’ side pulled off an impressive victory in a Royal London One-Day Cup tie at The Cooper Associates County Ground but that was a rare good day for Notts in the west country.
They haven’t beaten Somerset in the Championship in Taunton since 1985 and have only managed six draws in 16 visits since. They did break the sorry sequence in 2004, with a win when the fixture was staged at Bath.
“It’s a big game, Somerset away,” said Moores. “We know we are going to have to play well but it’s quite an exciting fixture to have right now.
“We had a good start to the season but we know we’ve got areas to work on and we will be battling hard to keep up there. The goal for every side is to be in the top three coming into the run-in.
“The pitches might have settled down a bit now, so there might be more of a chance for the batters to build some bigger scores and create pressure that way. It should be a great game.”
The fixture might enable off-spinner Matt Carter to add to his tally of five first class appearances. His Notts debut came at Taunton in 2015 when he picked up 10 wickets in the match.
Carter has recently been involved in the one-day side for the first time and his Head Coach hinted that the 22-year old might be in contention this weekend.
“He’s bowling very well,” said Moores. “We’re pleased for Matthew because he worked really hard during the winter. He’s just come off a period where he bowled over 100 overs in a week for the second team and he’s also had a game for Lincolnshire.
“He’s got his overs in, which spinners need to do and then he’s done well when we brought him into the one-day side. We’ll see what the pitch is like when we get to Taunton but there’s a chance he could be involved.”
Stuart Broad is unavailable after England duty and Harry Gurney is recovering from a calf injury, so there’s a chance that either Mark Footitt or Luke Wood may be included in the squad.
Footitt has recently completed a short loan spell with Derbyshire and Wood is now over an ankle knock which prevented him playing in the Royal London matches.
“Luke is now fit for selection,” confirmed Moores, “so all credit to him and the physio, James Pipe. We’ve almost been trying to dovetail things, when one player goes down another one comes back.”