Although Hampshire have one of cricket’s longest and most illustrious histories – the Hambledon Club and Broadhalf-penny Down often cited as the ‘Cradle of Cricket’ – regular matches between the doyens of the South and Nottinghamshire did not take place until the County Championship was formed in the 1890s.
Having said that, matches between counties were few and far between in the first half of the 19th Century and Hampshire were the third county (after Kent and Sussex) against whom Notts played a First-Class fixture, making this one of the oldest match-ups in Trent Bridge history.
The two sides actually met for the first time in 1803 (220 years ago!) when a combined Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire XI took on Hampshire at Lord’s – Hants winning by a comfortable innings and 20 runs. Thirteen of the twenty-two players made their First-Class debuts in that game and for eight of them it was also their last!
It was forty years before they met again, playing back-to-back home and away fixtures in June 1843. In the first, at Trent Bridge, Thomas Barker took his 200th First-Class wicket as Notts completed an almost exact reversal of the earlier game – winning by and innings and 19 runs.
The return was an altogether more dramatic game and one that still holds an unlikely record. Travelling to the station to board the train for Southampton, Barker leapt from the carriage he was sharing with Bart Good when their horse bolted. Unfortunately for Barker, he broke his leg and was taken unconscious to Marylebone Infirmary (ironically, Bart Good remained in the cab and was not badly injured).
Notts thus arriving a man short, Hampshire generously agree that Francis Noyes could bat twice for the visitors to ensure eleven batters per side – a particularly sporting gesture as Noyes had made the only half-century of the Trent Bridge game a few days earlier.
He failed, though, to match that total at the Antelope ground, making 31 and 8 in Notts’ first innings and 5 and 9 in the second.
This remains the only instance of someone batting four times in an English First-Class fixture!
An even more remarkable game – one that certainly made headlines – was played at Southampton (by this time at the County Ground) in May 1930.
Despite having an impressive eleven – including such luminaries as George Gunn, Arthur Carr, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce – Notts were skittled for just 69 in their first innings and Hampshire replied with 125, still well below par.
When Notts batted again they made the highest innings total of the match, 226, with half-centuries from ‘Dodge’ Whysall and Ben Lilley.
Hampshire went in pursuit of 171 to win and despite three wickets falling with the score in forties, they were well on target when stumps were drawn at the end of Day Two.
In fact, they were on 170-5…just one away from victory!
Hampshire had claimed, and played, the extra half-hour allowed for in the rules but then Notts – perhaps hoping for overnight rain and the chance to escape with a draw – insisted that play should end.
No rain came, so they resumed on Day Three. Only the Hampshire batters, Alex Kennedy and Len Creese, were in whites – the Notts players took the field in lounge suits and (quite a few) in hats as well.
Skipper Arthur Carr bowled two balls, the second of which Kennedy hit for four and thus they all went home.
The Daily Mail called it a ‘One Run Farce’ and it is hard to argue with that verdict (though if it had rained and Notts had gained three points for the draw, Carr’s intransigence might have looked like wisdom).
The 2023 game marks the 120th Anniversary of the highest score made by a Notts player on their home ground – 296 by captain AO Jones way back in 1903 (against Gloucestershire).
That is not the highest score at the ground, however. There have been three triple centuries at Trent Bridge; the highest, 345, was made by Australia’s Charlie MacCartney in 1921.
The most recent was by Hampshire’s John Crawley’s who made 301* in 2004 – a score he bettered by ten runs when the two counties met at Southampton in 2005. Crawley is the only player to have made two 300+ scores against Notts.