The two-day cricket festival that has seen Nottinghamshire CCC host Royal London One-Day Cup games at Welbeck’s Sookholme Road ground over the weekend has been hailed an overwhelming success.
The ‘Welbeck Weekender’ saw the county club play senior home fixtures away from Trent Bridge for the first time in 11 years as Warwickshire and Glamorgan visited the John Fretwell Sporting Complex for 50-over matches.
On Saturday, Alex Hales smashed 103 off 61 balls and Dan Christian took 5-40 as Nottinghamshire cantered to a nine-wicket win by chasing down the Bears’ 220 all out with 21.5 overs to spare.
Rain meant that just 23 overs were possible in Sunday’s match, with the hosts reaching 83-3 against their Welsh opponents, having been asked to bat first.
Nevertheless, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, Mick Newell, was pleased with how the weekend and panned out and said: “I think it has been a great success.
“Saturday was a tremendous occasion – a nice sunny day, a good crowd in and a decent game of cricket with Hales’ hundred, so a lot of things to enjoy.
“I think the pitch played very well. With the 10.30am starts, there was a little bit in it early in the mornings, as you would expect, but it got better over the course of the day.
“The way that Hales and (Riki) Wessels batted on Saturday afternoon showed that run scoring was possible and there was enough pace and bounce in it to encourage the bowlers as well.
“We were very well looked after and the facilities have been very good. It’s obviously not the same as Trent Bridge, but you wouldn’t expect it to be, nor necessarily want it to be – that’s why we went there, because we wanted something different.
“Nothing that has happened would say that it shouldn’t happen again. It’s something for the Welbeck Club and Notts to decide, but if it’s financially viable for everyone then we would certainly like to go back.”
England Ashes hopeful Hales gave the selectors a timely reminder of his talents – albeit in a different format – with his explosive innings, that thrilled an estimated 2,500 crowd, containing seven fours and nine sixes.
“It has been great fun and I’m glad we could put on a really good performance on Saturday,” said the 26-year-old right hander. “The lads have enjoyed it too, but unfortunately the weather got the better of us on Sunday.
“It’s great to give people who live this far north in the county the chance to come and watch us without having to go to Nottingham, which can be up to an hour’s trip.”
John Fretwell, the ground’s benefactor, has been delighted by the way all parties have worked together to ‘pull it off’, and thanked partners Greene King for their support.
He added: “We’ve had an absolutely brilliant weekend. The volunteers from the club, centre manager Mark Waterfield and his staff, the groundsman Robbie Sprigg and his team, the Nottinghamshire staff… we’ve all worked together to make it happen.
“Saturday was a memorable day for me, seeing so many people at the ground for a great day’s cricket. When you start out on the journey, it’s hard to envisage that end result.
“It was a shame about the weather on the Sunday, which kept a lot of people away. I think there would have been even more people here with a good forecast, with those who play cricket locally on a Saturday likely to have come.
“But the feedback from Notts has been excellent. I think they were very impressed with us and the wicket, which played well.
“We’ll have to wait and see if it happens again. I know we’ve had great reports from the pitch assessors and one of the umpires I spoke to was very impressed, so I think we have ticked all the boxes.”