General News | 14th May 2008
Lancs Legend Briggs Came Close To Notts Switch
From about 1865, the success of the Nottinghamshire County side resulted in the county having cricket mania. It became the ambition of every young lad to become a professional cricketer.
Nottinghamshire began to supply the world demand for cricketers and at the same time Lancashire’s local clubs sought England’s best professionals.
Dozens of Notts players moved to Lancashire to fill the void and in doing so became qualified by residence for Lancashire.
The Lancashire County Club then noticed their potential. In 1872 they engaged the Eastwood fast bowler, William McIntyre – never has a pro been so successful in his first summer with Lancashire.
In county games McIntyre took 40 wickets, average 5.65, the following year he took 62 at 8.50. On six occasions he bowled unchanged through both innings for Lancashire.
When his Lancashire career ended he had taken 441 wickets at 11.65, a record without parallel in Lancashire cricket.
He died in Prestwich Asylum in 1892 aged 48. In 1878 a second Notts fast bowler, Jack Crossland, joined the Lancashire side. He came from Sutton-in-Ashfield and captured 245 wickets for his adopted county at an average of 12.45.
Lord Harris led a campaign to have Crossland banned on the grounds of his dubious bowling action, but in a curious twist, Crossland was banned because he was not properly qualified for Lancashire. He spent the summer in the county but returned to Sutton in the winter. In the same year as Crossland began his Lancashire career, Notts made a fatal blunder in asking Johnny Briggs to come to Trent Bridge for a trial.
Briggs was born in Sutton, but lived in Lancashire, where his father was a pro. Briggs requested his train fare. Notts refused. Briggs then had a trial at Old Trafford and developed into the outstanding all-rounder of his generation.
He played 391 matches for Lancashire and 33 Tests for England. In his entire first-class career Briggs took 2221 wickets, average 15.95 and scored 14,092 runs. Tragically he died in Cheadle Asylum in 1902 aged 39.
In the 1880s three more Notts pros were tried with Lancashire, Alfred Price and Arthur Smith, both from Ruddington, and Charles Shore from Sutton.
Not one of the three had a long career with Lancashire, but Shore moved to Norfolk where he was the mainstay of the attack for ten years. George Wharmby, also from Sutton was tried for Lancashire in 1894, but later made his name in Minor County cricket. However Bert Hallam of East Leake joined Lancashire in 1895 and taking 100 wickets in 1897 materially helped Lancashire to take the title that season. In 1900 doctors stated that Hallam was incapable of continuing as a county cricketer and Lancashire released him. However Notts refused to trust the doctor’s verdict. Hallam joined Notts in 1901 and in 1907 he took 156 wickets, average 12.19, bringing the Championship crown back to Trent Bridge.
Since the 1890s no first-class cricketer has begun his career at Trent Bridge and then moved to Old Trafford and the only Notts born player to turn out for Lancashire has been Frank Watson, who was born in Nottingham, but brought up in Lancashire, where his father was a professional.
He was a leading batsman for Lancashire between the wars, hitting all 23,596 runs, average 36.98, including an innings of 300 against Surrey in 1928. The story of Notts players moving to Lancashire is therefore a curious one to say the least.