General News | 20th May 2008

Seaside Connection

Nottinghamshire Cricket Historian Peter Wynne-Thomas profiles the players that have swapped Trent Bridge for Hove.

The last cricketer to emigrate to the seaside was Eddie Hemmings in 1993. Hemmings had an unusual career in the first-class game. He made his debut for his native Warwickshire at the age of 17 in 1966 and after 13 seasons at Edgbaston he had scored 4,306 runs, at an average of 21.74 and taken 445 wickets averaging 31.90.

In his final year with Warwickshire his bowling average was over 40 and his career appeared finished. Nottinghamshire then signed him and his bowling was transformed. In 1981 when Notts won the Championship Hemmings took 90 wickets at 20.63, better than any of his seasons with Warwickshire. In 1982, in his 17th season of county cricket he made his Test debut.

He toured Australia with England three times and played in Tests from 1982 to 1991. He went to the West Indies with an Invitation XI and became the first bowler to captured all ten wickets in a f.c. XI-a-side match in the Caribbean. He moved to Sussex in 1993 and played three final summers there. He ended his career with 9,533 runs and 1,515 wickets, so he captured over 1,000 first class wickets after the age of 29. He is proof that spin bowlers improve with age.

The other five Notts men to go to Sussex are all attributable to Lord Sheffield, whose family seat was Sheffield Park, a few miles north of Brighton. He was devoted to Sussex cricket, which in the 1880s was in the doldrums. He took the unusual step of engaging the current Notts captain, Alfred Shaw to become what in today’s terms would be called the Sussex Cricket Development officer.

Shaw moved to Sheffield Park. The Notts Committee took a dim view of this and in effect sacked Shaw as their captain, despite the fact that the County had won four successive Championship titles under his leadership. Shaw scoured the Downs for talent and found none.

His alternative plan was in import Notts cricketers. In 1886 George Bean of Sutton in Ashfield was brought in, his brother Joe came later. Frank Guttridge came in 1892 and Richard Lowe in 1893. Still Sussex were among the minnows. Shaw’s final throw of the dice was to play himself and aged 51 he made his Sussex debut and performed so well that he topped the Sussex bowling averages.
 
He continued in 1895, but his legs gave way! Shaw played one final first-class match – for Notts in 1897. He died in Gedling in 1907 and, as is well known, is buried in Gedling churchyard, where his grave still stands.

Those writers who have never visited the graveyard claim Shaw was deliberately buried exactly 22 yards from the grave of Arthur Shrewsbury, the legendary Notts batsman – in reality Shaw is buried as far from Shrewsbury as it is possible to get. The former business partners had fallen out.

 

Eddie Hemmings

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