General News | 17th September 2008

From Trent Bridge to The Oval

Peter Wynne-Thomas trawls the archives to examine the careers of players who have moved to Surrey from Notts:

Born in Radford in 1868, Bill Lockwood is perhaps Nottinghamshire’s greatest export to Surrey. Lockwood played his early cricket for Forest Wanderers on The Forest and some exceptional bowling feats for that club enabled him to gain a place in the Notts side at the age of 18. At that time Nottinghamshire only employed players on a match by match basis and Arthur Shrewsbury recommended that Lockwood apply for a position on the staff at The Oval. He moved there in 1887, though still being available for his native county.

With the Notts side being the strongest in the Championship, Lockwood’s opportunities were few and far between. He was now living in South London and in 1889 both Surrey and Notts invited him to appear. He chose Surrey, beginning a county career which culminated in him being considered the outstanding fast bowler of his generation. It was not however his extreme speed which worried batsmen, but his subtly disguised slower ball.

There is a marvelous description of the effect this had, a commentator of the day wrote: ‘Lockwood’s slow took the cricket world by storm when it made its first appearance and it is still a household word in the land...only after painful experience did batsmen learn to recognise the delivery and even then they rarely succeeded in mastering it.’

Lockwood played 12 Tests for England, taking 43 wickets at 20.55 runs each. His final first-class match was for Surrey in 1904. He acted as coach at various schools and occasionally turned out for Julien Cahn's’ Notts Ramblers side before returning to Forest Wanderers and Radford. His final years were spent in a wheelchair but he still watched the matches on The Forest and Wanderers were given his cricket bag to carry the club’s pads and bats to away games. Lockwood died in 1932 and is buried in Beeston Cemetery.

By coincidence, the player considered by reporters as the fastest bowler of 1886 was Tom Bowley from Old Basford. Like Lockwood he couldn’t get into the Notts side and went on to The Oval staff in 1883, making his first-class debut for Surrey in 1885. He played for Surrey until 1892 and moved to Sherborne School as coach. He was responsible for discovering Arthur Carr and recommending that Notts gave Carr a chance in the Championship side. Carr went on, of course, to captain both the County and England. Bowley died in Sherborne in 1939.

Edwin Mills was another Notts man who failed to secure a place in the famous Notts side of the 1880s and moved to the Oval playing staff.  He came from Wollaton and appeared in 29 matches for Notts between 1878 and 1884 as an all-rounder, but the competition for the all-rounders slot was gobbled up by Flowers and Barnes and he, being on the staff at Surrey, switched to that county for 1885. Mills only played in seven first-class games because his fielding ability was affected by his weight. He left The Oval staff at the close of 1888 and returned to Nottinghamshire, dying in Cossall in 1899. His brother, John Mills, also played for Notts and was a very useful club cricketer for Wollaton and Lenton United. He died whilst watching Notts play Derbyshire at Ilkeston in 1932.

Of much more recent vintage is Chris Lewis. One of the most talented of all-rounders, Lewis began his county career with Leicestershire in 1987, moved to Trent Bridge in 1992 and then on to Surrey in 1996. In between times he played 32 Tests for England and 51 One Day Internationals. Lewis then re-appeared for Leicestershire in 1998 but only stayed for two seasons. In more recent years he has played with various club sides in the East Midlands. Lewis returned to Surrey in 2008 as a specialist Twenty20 player, and made one appearance in the Friends Provident Trophy and another appearance in the Twenty20 Cup.

Finally Usman Afzaal joined Surrey at the start of the present season, after four season with Northants. He was just 18 when he made his Nottinghamshire first class debut in 1995 and was capped in 2000. The following season he played three Tests for England against Australia scoring 83 runs including a 54 in the match at The Oval.

He left Trent Bridge in the winter of 2003 after making 6,261 runs with an average of 32.95 for the County.

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Usman Afzaal

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