Outlaws pledge to go all the way

Source - thisisnottingham.co.uk

Graeme Swann is convinced Notts can go one step further and win this season's Twenty20 Cup after finishing as runners-up in 2006.

The Outlaws get their season underway with a trip to cross-border rivals Derbyshire Phantoms tomorrow night.

Nobody is looking forward to the onset of Twenty20 cricket more than off-spinner Swann after Notts lost to Leicestershire in last year's final.

The 28-year-old believes his team have it within them to mount a successful campaign in 2007.

"I think last season's Twenty20 was very enjoyable for everyone involved and we came very close to winning it," said Swann.

"I love playing in it and I think everyone in our side does.

"A lot of people dub it as 'silly season' but I think it has come to the point now where it is a real event to be taken seriously.

"Sometimes it can be difficult to find the energy to play in games week after week, but you never seem to have the same problem when it is just twenty overs.

"I can't wait to get going and hopefully we can go one step further and win it this time."

A key part of Notts' Twenty20 success last year was the frugal bowling of left-armer Ryan Sidebottom.

He bowled tightly both at the start and end of innings and his economy rate of 4.05 runs per over was the best of any bowler in the competition.

But they will have to manage without Sidebottom for much of this year's campaign as he continues to take wickets for England.

However, Swann reckons Notts can still prosper, even if they will find it difficult without a player of his quality.

He said: "When you have a class bowler who keeps it tight and takes wickets, then you are always going to miss them.

"Sid is the best left-arm seam bowler in the country but we do have strength in depth in all areas of the squad and we will work round it. He is difficult to replace but we will not be pining for him."

Swann played as a pinch-hitter at the top of the order in 2006 with mixed success.

He scored just 11, 4, 0 and 1 in his first four innings but also hit a 32, 40 and 32 to get Notts off to some flying starts.

Swann's 170 runs in 11 innings made for a modest average of 15.45. But importantly for Twenty20, his runs came quickly at a strike rate of 126.86.

Whether he continues in that role against the Phantoms remains to be seen, with Notts having beefed up their batting options over the winter.

As well as Bilal Shafayat, who has opened the majority of one-day games this season, Will Jefferson is also back in contention after making a successful return from injury.

The 27-year-old struck a confident 60 not out in Notts' final Friends Provident Trophy North Conference game, in which they beat Lancashire.

That could put him in line to start against Derbyshire - certainly the player himself hopes so after a frustrating spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Jefferson said: "I'm not sure what the management have in mind for me, but I'm keen to play in the Twenty20 and my focus is on that.

"The competition to get in the team is high, but I'm hoping I will get a chance.

"If I can get a few runs and find some form in this then that would set me up for the second half of the season where hopefully I can get some runs in the County Championship side."

Despite his lack of match practice, Jefferson was named in the England Lions (formerly A-side) who have been playing the West Indies in a 50-over game at New Road, Worcester today.

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