Nottinghamshire Outlaws remain optimistic that this may be the year that they finally lift the domestic T20 crown for the first time.
The Royal London One-Day Cup holders have often been tipped to go all the way in the shortest format but their hopes of glory have always been cruelly dashed, often at the knockout stage.
If prizes were awarded for quarter-final appearances, then the Trent Bridge trophy cabinet would need re-enforcing.
On Thursday evening, Notts try again when they host Somerset in the last eight of the NatWest T20 Blast, with the winners going through to Finals Day at Edgbaston on September 2.
It will be the seventh time in eight seasons that the Outlaws have reached this stage, and ninth time in all. Incredibly, all previous quarter finals, and this week’s have been played at Trent Bridge. Notts are good –- no, very good -- at qualifying from the groups stages of the competition, but have then always come up short in the latter rounds.
Two of their previous disappointments have been inflicted by this week’s opponents, with the Cidermen narrowly beating Notts on Finals Day in 2010 and at the quarter-final stage a year later.
Outlaws captain Dan Christian has happier memories of facing Somerset as he was at the crease when his Hampshire side overcame Somerset in the final in 2010.
Christian, batting with a runner, scrambled the winning leg-bye off the last ball of the match, a single that he shouldn’t have taken, having been injured during the previous delivery.
“There was a delay of five or ten minutes while they came out and whitewashed the lines and waited for the runner to get padded up,” reflected the 34-year old.
“I shouldn’t have run but by then, I was all caught up in the moment and had completely forgotten I’d just torn my quad. So I set off and by the time we’d
completed the run, our boys were on the field celebrating. It was only afterwards that people realised that if Somerset had run me ou, then they would have won. But it was an amazing finale.”
The Outlaws reeled off nine consecutive victories under Christian last year before coming unstuck on Finals Day against the eventual winners Northamptonshire.
“Obviously we were pretty disappointed by that defeat,” remarked Christian. “But it was a good game of cricket really. We had them three wickets down for just 15 and then Ben Duckett played beautifully to get them up to 161. We were quite pleased with that, but soon found ourselves in the exact same position at three down for 15 and we never really recovered, so it was disappointing, having played so well up to that point in the competition.”
Notts were again the dominant force in this year’s North group, topping the table, despite losing their final match against Leicestershire Foxes.
“We did a lot of good things and bowled pretty well, but our fielding was a touch off,” said the captain. “We still made 200, though, so there are some really good signs going into this week and all we are thinking about is knocking out Somerset and making it through to Finals Day again.”
Victory will complete an incredible few days for the all-rounder, who was named in the Australia party for the forthcoming T20 leg of his country’s tour of India, his first call-up for three years.
“It has come completely out of the blue,” Christian admitted. “Although I’d obviously still got ambitions to play for Australia again. I guess the selectors saw that I had a pretty good IPL this year and I think that must have counted in my favour.”