Peter Wynne-Thomas looks back on past meetings between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire at Trent Bridge.
Derbyshire’s trips to Trent Bridge have produced more than their fair share of oddities. Even the boring statistics are curious. Since the Second World War, Derbyshire have played 52 Championship matches at Trent Bridge. Exactly half of those have been drawn and half ended in a definite result - with both sides on 13 wins each.
The post-war sequence of matches began with an unusual record. The number of batsmen who have scored only one Championship hundred, and for that innings to be a double century, is very rare.
To do that and have your innings posted as the highest made in English cricket in that specific summer is unique. But we can top that by saying the batsman involved was born in Nottingham, had played Championship cricket for Notts, but had deserted his native county in favour of Derbyshire - scoring this tremendous innings against Notts! The batsman was Pat Vaulkhard and his innings was 264.
We can even add to this bizarre state of affairs by pointing out that Vaulkhard was dropped before he reached double figures (not unusual), with the offending fielder being Guy Willatt, who was born in Nottingham, but is known to most in the cricket world as the captain of Derbyshire and more recently the Chairman of the Derbyshire Cricket Committee! Rain washed out most of the final day of the 1946 game – it was drawn.
I must mention the 1948 match, I was there, as were about 10,000 other spectators. It was Joe Hardstaff’s benefit game. The dark green and yellow striped brochure still lurks on my bookshelf. The second morning opened with the two most elegant batsmen in England, Hardstaff and young Reg Simpson moving toward a double century partnership.
Gothard, the white-haired bespectacled Derby captain, then asked Denis Smith, who never bowled, to have a go. The umpire had the audacity to judge Simpson out leg before – Simpson made 129. Then complete catastrophe, Smith had the affront to bowl Hardstaff on 97. The world nearly came to an end. Mind you, Notts had the last laugh. In Derby’s second innings, Notts introduced the occasional left arm spinner, Harry Winrow into the attack. He took 5-18 and Notts won by an innings. It should be added that Winrow’s only double hundred had been at Trent Bridge the previous year – against Derbyshire.
Mick Newell will remember the 1988 match. He and Derek Randall added 325 for the fourth wicket, with Randall going on to make the highest score of his career - 237. Notts made 614 and won by an innings, despite a fast hundred from John Morris. No one else could cope with Franklyn Stephenson, whose ‘slower’ ball that season, his first with Notts, confused not only the Derbyshire batsmen, but virtually everyone else.
Dare we mention 1989? This is not for younger readers. Tim Robinson won the toss. All seemed well as openers Chris Broad and Paul Pollard took the total to 87. Out of the blue, five wickets went down for 27. One end was taking spin while the other was tailor-made for the faster bowlers, as Devon Malcolm discovered. Notts were all out for 185 in 56.5 overs.
Derbyshire went in and just as the clock showed time, they were all out for 165 in 47 overs. Stephenson and Hemmings shared the wickets. Next morning, Broad and Pollard began Notts’ second innings, Broad was poking the pitch and acting suspiciously. He was out for 11. One of the umpires walked back to the pavilion with him. The game stopped abruptly. After a short break, the spectators were told that the game would continue on another pitch and the groundsmen began to sweep the Test wicket.
After lunch the players and umpires returned, but without the famous Derbyshire overseas star, Michael Holding. It emerged that he didn’t believe in such shenanigans, got in his car and drove home! On the new pitch, Notts were bowled out for 112, but Derbyshire could only make 64, Hemmings taking 5-20. Notts gained 21 points, but the Lord’s experts arrived and took 25 points away – for an unsatisfactory pitch. I suppose Notts were lucky not to receive the penalty twice for pitch number two.
Pitch inspectors hadn’t been invented in 1912, when at Trent Bridge, Tom Wass took 10-70, removing Derbyshire for 79 and 38. Notts won that encounter by an innings and 147 runs. To rub salt into the wound, mention should be made of the 1879 game. Notts, batting first, made 159. The full report on Derbyshire’s first innings reads: “Before a run had been scored, Rigley and Cook were both caught at cover-point; Mr Smith returned the ball at 3 (a quaint expression for ‘caught and bowled’), Platts was stumped at 4, and at 11 Mr Wallroth was caught at long-field. Now came a complete collapse. At 16 the last four wickets fell for nothing – Osborne was clean bowled, Hay was caught at cover-point, Mycroft at wicket and the Rev E.Forman clean bowled.”
All out for 16, Derbyshire were invited to follow on. Their first two wickets went without adding to the score. Play ended for the day. On the second morning Derbyshire were all out 44. Fred Morley’s first innings figures were 10.2-7-7-7.
Having started this with a curiosity, I’ll end with one. In 1961 Notts played Derbyshire twice at Trent Bridge, both games being three-day and first-class. Unique. Why and what happened as a result?