History in the Making
That two county sides with almost 400 years of history between them should be meeting for the first time seems remarkable – but that’s the case for Norfolk and Nottinghamshire who meet in a one-day friendly match at the East Anglian county’s home ground, Manor Park, Horsford this Sunday, 31 July.
The match is part of a plan this season for each ‘National County’ (more commonly known as ‘minor’ counties) to play a fixture against a First-Class county.
Although Notts have never played Norfolk at first team level, the Second XI has played Norfolk many times in the Minor Counties championship, the last time in 1966. The links, though, go back into the long history of both clubs.
As early 1821, the Nottingham ‘Old Club’ (predecessor of the County side) played the Holt Club of Norwich, that had come to prominence thanks to the Pilch family. Fuller Pilch, later to be renowned as the greatest batter of the age, did more damage as a bowler against Nottingham, taking 12 wickets across the two matches played that year. Even he could not prevent Nottingham prevailing with wins both home and away.
Six years later, Norfolk County Cricket Club was set up and soon became known as being “second only to the Marylebone club”. The fortunes of that first county side fluctuated and the present Norfolk County Cricket Club was constituted in 1877.
The annual Norwich Cricket Week (now the ‘Festival’) was first held in 1881 and in 1895 Norfolk was a founding member of the Minor Counties Cricket Championship.
Their opponents, Nottinghamshire can cite antecedents back as far as 1771 but the County side is generally recognised as starting in the late 1820s and played their first county match – home and away v Sussex – in 1835. So the clubs have histories of a very similar length.
At least one Nottinghamshire cricketer played a significant part in the history of Norfolk; Charlie Shore, a slow left-arm bowler from Sutton-in-Ashfield, was the county’s professional in the 1890s and had his career-best figures playing for Norfolk. In 1897 he took all ten Durham wickets for just 50 runs, one of six occasions when he took ten or more in a match for his adopted county.
Something of a character, Charlie was less effective as a batter, his ‘tail-ender’ approach being largely a pull to the deep and out. On one occasion, he came in last man when his partner, S D Page was 96no. Urged to bat out the four remaining balls of the over to give Page his chance at a century, Shore solemnly promised…first ball he swiped to the deep and was caught! Page’s response is not recorded.
Rather more happily, Charlie Shore bowled some 3,500 overs for Norfolk in county matches, taking 555 wickets at a miserly 13.22.
In more recent times, a couple of Norfolk-born players have joined the First-Class ranks at Trent Bridge.
Andrew Corran, born in Eaton, Norwich in 1936, came into county cricket by the well-established route of school first XI – he attended Gresham’s School in Norfolk – University and his home county.
He joined Nottinghamshire in 1961 and made his debut at Trent Bridge against Middlesex in June that year. He was pretty much an ever-present in his first season and in 1962 was appointed captain but it was not a successful season for Notts, finishing a disappointing fifteenth in the County Championship. His best season was in 1965 when he took 109 wickets at 20.30 with his right-arm medium pacers.
He was capped by both his counties – in 1958 by Norfolk and 1962 by Notts. Andy emigrated to Australia in 1965, thus ending his First-Class cricket, and resumed his teaching career; he eventually returned to the UK and taught maths and cricket at Cranleigh School from 1968 until his retirement.
Rob Ferley, also born in Norwich, joined the staff at Trent Bridge in 2007 as a slow left-arm bowler and useful right-handed batter; he had previously spent seven seasons with Kent, making 18 First-Class appearances in that time.
Ferley's first team appearances for Notts were limited – just four games – but he recorded a remarkable average of 111 by dint of having three 'not-outs' in his four innings; his top score for Notts was 43no against Essex. He also played in 12 List-A matches.
Rob played club cricket for Retford in 2007 and Plumtree a year later before leaving to return to his first side, Kent. He is currently Director of Cricket at Eastbourne College and his father, Tim Ferley, is still active at Norfolk CC – not least as their regular photographer (credit to Tim for the pictures used here)
Another notable name on the list of Norfolk caps was one Henry ‘My Dear Old Thing’ Blofeld, capped a year after Andy Corran. Peter Parfitt, a fast-scoring opener for Middlesex and England, started his cricket in Norfolk and won his first county cap there in 1955.
Perhaps the most famous name connected with cricket in Norfolk is that of Edrich. So many members of the family have played at various times that, legend has it, they could field a full eleven!
Bill Edrich, famed for his Middlesex and England partnerships with Denis Compton, and his cousin John, who opened for Surrey and his country and was one of the few cricketers to make more than one hundred hundreds, were both Norfolk regulars.
Recently, links have been established between the two counties at academy level. Two Norfolk players have joined the Notts Academy – Ben Panter and Ben Wilcox; they followed Calum Metcalf who was with the Trent Bridge set-up a couple of years ago.
Notts all-rounder Sol Budinger played one game for Norfolk last year, making 29 as an opener in the Minor Counties Championship match against Lincolnshire.
This historic first meeting between Norfolk and Nottinghamshire will be keenly anticipated by both sides.