General News | 7th August 2007

Looking back on Notts v Somerset

Club historian Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back on past meetings between Notts and Somerset at Trent Bridge.

Because of cricketís complexity, every game produces a Ďrecordí of some sort. I know because anoraks appear in the library to tell me. They appear utterly put out by the fact that I was unaware that the players in Nottsí last game drank a record number of cups of tea.

Be that as it may, over the course of Somersetís appearances at Trent Bridge (thereís just 51 spread over 115 years - put in perspective, thatís 0.001 per cent of the world total of first-class matches), they have given us a world batting record of major importance.

Jimmy Cook is not a name on everybodyís lips, but he stands as one of the greatest batsmen ever to play in the County Championship. His career Championship average for Somerset is 69.75. Is that a record, someone will tell me?

In the Notts v Somerset game at Trent Bridge in 1989, Cook carried his bat through the Somerset first innings, making 120 out of a total of 186; in the second innings he carried his bat with 131 out of 218. Five other batsmen have carried their bats twice in a match, but only one scored a hundred in each innings - in 1911 - and none of the six hit well over 50 per cent of their clubís total.

Thatís praise, well merited, for a largely forgotten cricketer, but for Notts supporters I am pleased to add that we won the match by an innings and 67 runs. Tim Robinson hit 128, Paul Pollard 91 and Mike Field-Buss, on his Notts debut, took five wickets.

Cook came from South Africa; the major bowling figure in the match series hailed from South Australia. In the 1950s Somerset must have dreaded coming to Nottingham for three days a year. The Cidermen were totally confused by Bruce Dooland. He bowled eight times against them and every time, bar one when rain allowed him only fours overs, Dooland took five or more wickets. In all, he captured 41 wickets at an average of 7.65 runs each. Three of the matches ended in Nottsí victories, the fourth would have done, Somerset being saved by rain.

Somersetís first three matches at Trent Bridge - 1892, 1893 and l894 - all ended with the home county winning. In the 1893 game, Frank Shacklock became the first Notts bowler to take four wickets in successive balls. The old county player and former Worksop captain, George Langdale, a mathematics teacher at Welbeck, would inform anybody whoíd listen that four in four is in fact two hat-tricks.

Should it rain, you can debate that among yourselves - donít involve me, I had it every time I watched Notts at Worksop.

The Championship expanded in 1895 and Notts dropped the Somerset fixture. It was not until 1928 that hostilities were resumed - I use the word advisedly, for Notts opening attack now comprised Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, whereas Somerset were in rather low water.

Robertson-Glasgow, the humoursome cricket writer, was a principal bowler for the county in the í20s. He commented that anyone changing trains at Taunton was in danger of being drafted into the county side. The result was six straight wins for Notts. By the end of 1933, nine matches had produced nine successes. As a side note, in the 1930 game, Notts used a new rule to finish off the match in two days - claiming the extra half hour to take Somersetís last three wickets.

The l935 game was drawn, but it threw up an oddity. George Heane, the newly appointed Notts captain had played in only eight Notts matches. He was joined at the wicket by Bob Winrow, whoíd played just once before, back in 1932. The pair added 220 for the eighth wicket - a new record. Winrow had a very bizarre career. Offered a three-year contract at the end of that summer, he declined and 14 years afterwards turned up in his next first-clas game, representing Scotland.

The Winrow family were employed at Manton pit, near Worksop. In the 1990s I tracked him down to an address in Scotland. He came to an Old Players Reunion at Trent Bridge, complete with Scottish accent.

In revenge for the misery inflicted by Dooland, in 1958 and again in 1960, Notts were beaten by another Australian leggie, Colin McCool. 1974 produced a little controversy. Notts required 17 to win in the fourth innings with three overs left. The umpires delayed the start due to a slight drizzle and allowed only two overs. Notts made 14 - captain Mike Smedley was not amused.

1976 saw Derek Randallís 204 not out, but his England colleague, Ian Botham hit a brilliant 167, a maiden hundred, to win the game for Somerset. The 1990s saw four successive draws, including the exciting chase for 320 off 76 overs in 1997 - Notts reached 305 for nine at the close. Notts did however win in 1999, though 15 wickets fell on the first day - the pitch inspectors blamed the batsmen, not the track.

Notts and Somerset have only met once at Trent Bridge since the counties were split into two divisions. That game was in 2004. Notts had already gained enough points for promotion into Division One (the game was in September) and seemed rather too content, only Mark Ealham and Darren Bicknell came out of the encounter with much credit.

Of the 51 Championship matches between the two counties at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire have won 16 and lost eight. The remaining 27 have been drawn and though it is an invitation to something we donít want, many of the draws have been rain-affected.

I canít finish on that note - pick out a book by Robertson-Glasgow, thatíll provide a flavour of Somerset. 

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