General News | 23rd September 2008

A Brief History Of Crucial Encounters

Ahead of Nottinghamshire's game against Hampshire, Cricket Historian Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back at other crucial end-of-season encounters.

In 2005 Nottinghamshire actually won the title with a game in. The penultimate fixture was on the St Lawrence Ground at Canterbury. Kent were completely overwhelmed, the margin of victory being 214 runs. Jason Gallian, was famously run out for 199 for the second time in his career, but that minor mishap apart, everything went Notts’ way, after Kent sportingly declared. Kent were set 420 on the final day, AJ Harris took six wickets and Notts won with 17.2 overs in hand. The title was theirs.

The final match against Hampshire at Southampton, is not mentioned in polite society.

In 1994, when Notts finished third in the table, the vital game came earlier in August when Worcestershire were set an impossible 365 to win in the final innings, Curtis, so often a thorn in Notts’ side, hit a determined 188 not out and Haynes made 141.

Worcestershire won by five wickets with 8.4 overs in hand. Notts’ defeat gave Warwickshire an unassailable points lead.

In 1987 the battle for the title was between Lancashire and Notts. Notts’ final game was at Trent Bridge v Glamorgan. Hadlee and Rice were quite determined to capture the crown. Rice hit 104 not out and Hadlee took eight wickets, as Glamorgan capitulated. The title was won by four points.

The most nail-biting game in post-war Championship history was staged at Taunton in 1984. It was the season’s final fixture between Somerset and Notts. Essex, Notts main rivals, won their last game a day early, by an innings, collecting the maximum 24 points. This meant that Nottinghamshire had to win their game.

Three hours were lost through rain on the first day and Rice took the gamble of declaring the Notts first innings, although 52 behind the Somerset innings. In their turn Somerset declared, setting Notts 297 off 60 overs. Notts reached 278 for nine when last man, Andy Pick came to the wicket. At the other end Mike Bore was the batsman. Fourteen runs were required off the final over. Bore hit four, four and two. With two balls remaining he then hit the ball straight back over the bowler’s head. It was caught on the boundary, by the substitute fielder – Essex won the title, Notts were runners-up.

Four points separated Sussex and Notts at the top of the 1981 table when the final round of matches began. Sussex were playing Yorkshire at Hove, Notts playing Glamorgan at Trent Bridge. Glamorgan, batting first, were bowled out by Hadlee and Cooper before lunch on the first day for just 60, the highest scorer only making 14.

By collecting full bowling points, Notts required just one batting bonus point, plus the points for a win to clinch the title. Like Glamorgan, Notts struggled with the bat, but by the time the eighth wicket fell one batting point had been acquired. A lead of 120 was gained and then Glamorgan were bowled out a second time. Paul Todd and Tim Robinson took Notts to a ten wicket win and the title. Sussex won their game at Hove, picking up 23 points, but it was academic.

The last Nottinghamshire title win before 1981 was back in 1929 when Notts clinched the championship during a rain-ruined game at Ilkeston against Derbyshire.

Two years prior to that Notts seemed certain of the honours, but failed in their final match against the minnows, Glamorgan. In 1907, when A.O.Jones took Notts to the top, the championship contest was really a one horse race, Wass and Hallam, Notts opening bowlers, totally baffled opposing batsmen all summer on some damp pitches.

In the 1880s, Notts ruled the roost, until 1889 when three counties, Notts, Lancashire and Surrey tied for the title, which was odd when only eight counties competed.     

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Peter Wynne-Thomas

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