Fifty years ago today – on 27 April 1969 – a brave new world of cricket began, with the start of the John Player Sunday League.
The 40-overs-a-side matches were designed to attract a new audience to a declining sport, and to present a TV-friendly version of the game for the general public to enjoy.
Starting after lunch on Sundays, this new form of cricket proved immediately popular while the sponsorship money was credited with saving some hard-up counties from financial ruin.
Notts’ first match was against Essex at Chelmsford – and it ended in defeat.
Winning the toss and deciding to bat first, Essex closed on 185 for 9, with Bob White taking 3 for 59 and Bill Taylor 2 for 25.
In reply, Notts were all out for 148 in 39.2 overs. Mike Harris top scored with 64, but potential match-winner Garry Sobers took 1 for 20 and was run out without scoring.
The Green and Golds did win their first home game the following Sunday – defeating Northants by nine wickets, without Sobers – but ended the season in 13th place having won only five of 16 matches.
John Player sponsored the Sunday League for 18 seasons – and Notts never won the competition during this time, finishing as runners-up in 1984 and third in 1986, the final year of Player’s sponsorship.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this ground-breaking competition, the heritage team at Trent Bridge are keen to hear your memories – not just about the Sunday League, but also about John Player & Sons’ own cricket teams, and other matches at “Player’s Rec” on Aspley Lane.
If you have any stories, memorabilia or photographs you would like to share, please contact us by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Later in the season there will be an exhibition about John Player and cricket, accompanied by illustrated talks at lunchtimes during Specsavers County Championship matches in September.