2023 Trent Bridge game a ‘decider’
This season’s home County Championship fixture against Kent will not decide anything in terms of the eventual fates of either side in 2023 but will give one team an historical advantage.
Going into the match, the playing record reads 48-48 with 60 drawn games.
This is Nottinghamshire’s second oldest rivalry (after Sussex), with the first inter-county match played at Town Malling in 1840. No doubt Kent will be hoping for a repeat of that game as they won a low-scoring contest by 9 wickets.
A year later, Kent came to Trent Bridge for the first time and won again, by just 22 runs. Illustrious names from cricket’s early days can be found on the scorecards of those 1840s teams – Alfred Mynn and Fuller Pilch for Kent and William Clarke (the ‘father’ of Trent Bridge) and Thomas Barker for Notts.
The first County Championship game – in the inaugural 1890 season – between Notts and Kent was a damp, dismal slow-scoring one. Kent did amass 252-3 before declaring but did so from 185 five-ball overs! Notts limped to 40-4 at an even slower rate, in 53 overs, before the merciful weather brought an early end.
There have been more exhilarating games in the long history of this fixture; both sides have a best innings against the other of 600+, Notts making 602 at home in 1904 and Kent just two runs fewer at Canterbury in 2006.
Two players that have since been at the top of the English game were partners in the highest second wicket partnership in this fixture for Kent – Rob Key and Ed Smith sharing 233 at Mote Park, Maidstone, in 2003.
Mark Ealham appears in two best partnerships for Kent against Notts, sharing 315 for the sixth wicket with Aravinda da Silva in 1995 and a ninth-wicket stand of 171 with Paul Strang in 1997, both performances coming at what was to be his home ground, Trent Bridge.
The highest partnership in those 156 First-Class games was between Arthur Carr and Wilf Payton for Notts when they added 323 for the fourth wicket in 1923.
Far and away the best bowling performance in these games came at the Crabble Ground, Dover in 1922 when George Collins of Kent took all ten Notts second innings wickets to finish with 10-65 and a match analysis of 16-83!
Notts legend Harold Larwood nearly matched Collins, taking 9-41 at Trent Bridge in 1931, his career-best figures. His new ball partner and close friend Bill Voce denied ‘Lol’ a ten-fer by clean bowling Charlie Wright.
In addition to Mark Ealham, four other Nottinghamshire players were born in Kent. Ally Brown was born in Beckenham but never played for his home county, joining Notts towards the end of his playing career after almost twenty years with Surrey.
The much-travelled Ben Phillips played his first four seasons with Kent (he was born in Lewisham when it was still part of that county) and moved to Trent Bridge via Northants and Somerset.
Simon Francis, born in Bromley, was another who did not play for Kent but did appear for Somerset and Hampshire prior to joining Notts in 2007 for his final First-Class season.
Most recently, Notts and now England batter Ben Duckett joined the staff at Trent Bridge in 2018 from Northamptonshire and looks set to have the most garlanded record of Notts players from Kent – he was born in Farnborough in 1994.
Duckett will not be playing against his home county as he will still be with the England squad but no doubt he will be keenly following the fortunes to see which side takes the, temporary, lead in this historic fixture.
Two of Duckett’s former team-mates line up against Notts in 2023. Ben Compton, who moved South for the start of the 2022 season with superb results – making four centuries (including a career-best 140) and averaging over 50; Joey Evison made a similar move towards the end of that 2022 season. (The two seen here in Notts colours)
With the sort of ironic twist that sport delights in, Evison's return to Trent Bridge in Kent colours was a man-of-the-match performance in the final of the Royal London Cup v Lancashire. He made 97 and then chipped in with 2-34, including cleaning bowling Liam Hurt to take the wicket that clinched the title.