Ben Jones looks at how the Trent Rockets performed on draft-day, and how their squad is shaping up.
Squad: Joe Root, Adil Rashid, D’Arcy Short, Lewis Gregory, Alex Hales, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Dawid Malan, Tim van der Gugten, Steven Mullaney, Matt Carter, Tom Moores, Luke Wood, Luke Wright, Samit Patel, Ben Cox
Draft Activity: Timm van der Gugten (48k), Samit Patel (24k)
Very little business for the Nottingham side. While Samit Patel comes in for the lower price bracket, he’s the more eye-catching acquisition, joining the other Nottinghamshire stalwarts – Tom Moores, Steven Mullaney, Luke Wood, Matt Carter, and Alex Hales – in the Rockets squad. Netherlands seamer Timm van der Gugten joins as a domestic player, due to the Associate status within the competition.
Trent Rockets’ top three look formidable. Alex Hales is a top class T20 opener who loves batting at Trent Bridge; with a T20 World Cup on the horizon, while the added incentive to make his case with bat in hand could spur him on further. While D’Arcy Short has dipped in form over the last 12 months, he has a serious T20 record behind him, as does Dawid Malan who will likely slip in at No.3.
The batting strength continues further down the order. Lewis Gregory strikes at 167 against pace in T20, and while much of that has been done on batting friendly venues like Taunton and more recently at the Gabba, Trent Bridge is not exactly a bowler’s paradise. Combine this with Mullaney, Samit, and Coulter-Nile’s handy lower order hitting – plus Rashid Khan – and the Rockets have opportunity to go very, very hard at the death.
It’s important to mention Trent Bridge here. Arguably no other ground in England has such a pronounced identity as the Nottinghamshire ground, and the chance to build around this with a long and strong batting group was always a big advantage for the Rockets over other sides. No other Hundred ground has been faster scoring in the last five years of T20 cricket – the Rockets could be able to build a fortress.
On the bowling front, it would be remiss to not mention the presence of Rashid Khan, arguably the best T20 spinner the game has seen. While he has seen little in the way of team success – his last T20 league trophy was the 2017/18 BBL with Adelaide Strikers – his personal performance is rarely anything less than brilliant, and he’ll lead the Rockets attack.
Rockets’ bowling severely lacks depth. Coulter-Nile is an excellent bowler, and while the likes of Gregory, Wood and even Mullaney are solid Blast performers, they’re not proven as much more than that; Gregory’s economy rate in the PSL (9.7rpo) would concern the Rockets staff. When the patchy fitness record of Coulter-Nile is considered, it’s a less than ideal situation.
Much the same can be said for the spin unit. Carter is a useful matchup bowler as a result of his height, turning the ball away from the left-hander, and is happy bowling in the Powerplay (an economy of 7rpo is tidy in this phase), but he is a role player rather than a top class option. Samit’s canny left-armers are serviceable, but a strike rate of 26 in the last two years illustrates his more defensive role in the attack. If Rashid is below his best, the Rockets may struggle to take wickets.
Likely XI: Short, Hales, Malan, Moores +, Mullaney, Gregory, Patel, Coulter-Nile, Rashid, Carter, L Wood
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.