Mick Newell knows all about derby days.
The Nottinghamshire director of cricket experienced his fair share of cross-border battles during his time as a player – and with quite a degree of success too.
It was against the ‘old enemy’ of Derbyshire – some 29 years ago this month – that the former West Bridgford Comprehensive School pupil really made his senior breakthrough for Clive Rice’s green and golds.
Batting at the very top of the order, Newell swept past his previous best first-class score of 80 by registering a first century for the county, but did not stop there.
Taking on legendary West Indian paceman Michael Holding and former England fast bowler Devon Malcolm, he went on to convert his fine start to a double century, largely in tandem with John Birch (69) and then Sir Richard Hadlee (70).
The then 22-year-old eventually carried his bat for 203 not out – it remained his career-best – as the visitors to the County Ground, Derby were able to declare on 433-7 before Eddie Hemmings (5-38 in the first innings) and Rice (4-42 in the second) helped secure victory by an inning and 33 runs as the hosts were dismissed for 148 and 252.
These days, of course, as a hugely-respected coach who has won plenty of silverware, Newell is much more part of the furniture at Trent Bridge, but he hasn’t forgotten the importance of games between the teams based at opposite ends of the A52 Brian Clough Way.
While it may not have the same profile or intensity as a Forest versus Rams clash, there’s no doubt that county pride still matters – and the man in charge when Nottinghamshire take on their closest rivals in the 50-over Royal London Cup at the John Fretwell Complex, Sookholme on Sunday July 24 is determined his team will do their utmost to take the bragging rights.
Of all the games you could pick for the game at Welbeck, I think Notts-Derbyshire is the best you could have with the close proximity and the rivalry,” said Newell. “I expect supporters of both teams to be coming in numbers with it being so close to the county border.
“The locality for both sets of fans was one of the drivers for it being this game, it was the obvious game in our group, the perfect game, and I expect it to be a keenly contested one.
“Not only is it good for people who live in the north of our county and can’t travel down to Nottingham, it’s also ideal for people in northern Derbyshire who wouldn’t necessarily go to Derby to watch.
“You want to win all you matches, but we’re aware that they’ll be a bit of a banter around this one, so we’ll be doing our best to win it for the Nottinghamshire fans. If we can play as well as we did at Welbeck last year, we stand a good chance.”
The performance Newell refers to came against Warwickshire on the same weekend last year when the John Fretwell Complex hosted a historic first ever senior Notts fixture in the shape of a comprehensive nine-wicket victory for the hosts.
The man who returns as overseas player for 2016, Dan Christian, claimed 5-42 and home favourite Jake Ball, who came through the ranks at Welbeck, posted figures of 2-47 as the visitors were restricted to 220 all out, despite contributions from England players past and present Ian Bell (52) and Chris Woakes (36).
Current England opener Alex Hales then too centre stage as he powered seven fours and nine sixes on his way to a century off just 56 balls in tandem with Riki Wessels (85 not out).
The opening stand was worth 164 and though Hales could not see it through to the end as he went for 103, he had already played a game-defining hand before James Taylor (24 not out) came in to complete the formalities, along with Wessels.
Newell added: “Alex got a terrific hundred last year and Dan showed not only that he is a good bowler, but a really good fielder and powerful batsman as well.
“Getting a five-fer, he clearly enjoyed the experience (at Welbeck). He’s an excellent all-round cricketer who brings a lot to the dressing room as well. He was keen to come back, so it’s nice to secure someone who fits in so well for another year.
“A good pitch is always the starting point and everything else follows on from that - and pitch prepared last year was excellent.
“They made for good cricket with runs to be scored by good batting, as Alex Hales and Ian Bell showed, but also something in it for the bowlers, as Dan Christian showed.”
Notts missed out on a Lord’s appearance in this competition last year at the final hurdle as they were edged out by just four runs in a high-scoring match at the Oval – and the same fate befell them against Durham in 2014.
They won the 40-over competition – which the Royal London Cup has replaced – in 2013, and Newell is keen to see the strong record continue, meaning strong sides for all games.
“Our record tells you it’s definitely a format we have a strength in,” said Newell. “Obviously we are going to be weaker if we lose some of our international players, but it’s up to those who come in to take their chance and make sure they do the business.
“Our minimum target is to get to the knockout stages, as we have done for the last two years, and then we see where we go from there.
“I don’t see this competition as something where we blood players - they are picked if they deserve it. But is has given an opportunity for people like Brett Hutton and Sam Wood, players who have come through the system, and it’s up to them to take it.
“When it is a Lord’s final that you are aspiring to, you put out a strong side from what you have available.”
There are still a few hospitality places available at £40 per person, which includes admission, parking at £5 per car, a three-course Sunday lunch, a VIP seating area and a dedicated bar area.
Tickets for the game at Welbeck are available from www.nottsccc.co.uk and are priced at £10 for adults, £5 for juniors and £7 for senior citizens (over 65) and under-21s.
Ground admission in inclusive of access to the ground and seating in any stand apart from the members’ pavilion.