It is with the best wishes of all at Trent Bridge that Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad embark on their Ashes Series ‘Down Under’.
Assuming that both play some part in the forthcoming Five Match Vodafone Series, which begins at Brisbane on 25th November, they will be the 27th and 28th Nottinghamshire players to represent England in Australia.
Fittingly, the county was represented on the occasion of the first meeting. Now generally acknowledged as ‘the first Test Match’ the meeting between the nations at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 1877 had two Notts players in the tourists line-up, John Selby and Alfred Shaw.
Selby, a top order batsman, was also forced to double up as stand-in wicketkeeper after the first choice Ted Pooley had been detained by the authorities for assaulting someone who refused to pay a gambling debt, when the side stopped off en-route in New Zealand.
In that opening game, which England lost by 45 runs, Selby picked up a catch and scored totals of 7 and 38 but, statistically speaking was outdone by his county colleague.
Shaw, described as a ‘brisk round-arm bowler’ retains the distinction of delivering the first ball in Test cricket. He also picked up England’s first five wicket haul, with a tally of 5-38, following his first innings effort of 3-51.
Both men toured again in 1881/82 with Shaw having assumed the captaincy and another Notts player, Arthur Shrewsbury also made the side.
Shrewsbury’s own place in the history books came three years later when he skippered the tourists to their first series win in Australia, during which his 105 not out in the Melbourne decider was the first Test century by an England captain.
The series had begun with Adelaide hosting it’s first ever Test match and five of the England side played their county cricket for Nottinghamshire. Apart from the captain, appearances were made by William Scotton, Wilfred Flowers, William Attewell and also Billy Barnes who christened his first Test abroad with a score of 134.
Other Nottinghamshire players to make the trip ‘down under’ and play a Test there in the 19th century were Billy Gunn, Fred Morley and Mordecai Sherwin.
The Gunn brothers John and George emulated their uncle’s achievements in the early 1900’s, with George enjoying great success in the two tours he made, racking up a total of 843 runs, including two centuries at Sydney on the 1907/08 trip.
Arthur Jones and Joe Hardstaff snr also made appearances before the first World War, taking Nottinghamshire’s tally of players up to 14 by this stage.
Joe was followed into the side by his son, Joe jnr, who played 23 for times for England – but only once in Australia, scoring 67 at Adelaide in 1947.
Harold Larwood’s performances in these matches are worthy of scrutiny. Famed for his part in the controversial 1928/29 ‘Bodyline Tour’, he also made a subsequent visit four years later. In a total of 10 Test match appearances he collected 51 wickets and scored 318 runs. On the occasion of his 21st and final Test match at the SCG in 1933 he batted as nightwatchman, having already bowled 32.2 overs in Australia’s innings and went on to score 98 – at the time this was the highest score by a nightwatchman (eventually surpassed by Nasim-ul-Ghani of Pakistan in 1962).
‘Lol’s chum and county team-mate Bill Voce made three of these tours and picked up 41 wickets in 11 matches, whilst William ‘Dodger; Whysall had also made a visit in the period between the two wars.
Reg Simpson’s only tour to Oz resulted in a 4-1 series defeat but he had the satisfaction of scoring 156 not out at Sydney, to inspire England to victory. The innings, coincidentally, was played on his 31st birthday!
The first of Derek Randall’s four England tours to Australia was for the Centenary Test in 1977, when he scored 174 in the second innings 174
With 13 appearances in Australia ‘Rags’ is Notts most capped Englishman in Australia and his tally of 954 runs is comfortably the most achieved.
Randall’s last tour, in 1982/83 was Eddie Hemmings’ first. Although he also went on four tours there, he was seldom used, appearing in only 6 Test matches in all. As a nightwatchman, like Larwood 50 years earlier, he was a bowler who almost made an Ashes hundred but was cruelly dismissed when on 95.
Ashes hundreds were a speciality of Chris Broad though. Famously he hit three in successive matches on the ‘Gatting’ tour of 1986/87 – 162 at Perth, 116 at Auckland and 112 at the MCG – but few recall that he also hit 139 at Sydney when England made a 1-Test visit a year later.
Opening the batting with Chris in that match was Tim Robinson, who made 43 and also in the side was wicketkeeper Bruce French, who scored 47 and claimed four catches.
Chris Lewis made two Ashes trips with England, the first in 1990/91 was whilst he was still a Leicestershire player but he’d moved to Trent Bridge by the time of his second tour, in 1994/95, when he played twice and picked up eleven wickets.
Current Nottinghamshire skipper Chris Read went on the last tour there, four winters ago but was omitted for the first 3 Tests before being brought in for the final two matches of the series, at Melbourne and Sydney.
As we wish Graeme and Stuart well, the cricketing anoraks may like to know that their Nottinghamshire predecessors have racked up a total of 156 previous Test appearances in Australia, scoring 6577 runs (with 12 centuries) whilst taking 225 wickets (9 x 5-wicket hauls).
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