Throughout Nottinghamshire’s long and illustrious cricket history they have had some of greatest names ever to play the game in their ranks – but it is only fair to say that they have also let a few ‘slip through their fingers’ that went on to greatness elsewhere.
Of these, few will have had such an outstanding career as the competent, but unspectacular, middle order batsman and occasional bowler that left his native county in 1887 to spend two years qualifying by residence for Surrey, then Nottinghamshire’s great rivals. Not many at Trent Bridge will have expected to hear much again of William Lockwood.
Yet Bill Lockwood was to form one of the first, and one of the most formidable, opening bowling partnerships in County Cricket alongside the prodigiously talented Tom Richardson. Unlike his Surrey team-mate, Lockwood also proved very effective with the bat.
None of this was evident from his time with Nottinghamshire – in five First-Class games for Notts, he scored just 36 tuns with a top score of 16no and an average of 5.14; his bowling was hardly better – six wickets 46.50, with four of those coming against the 1886 Australian tourists.
His first match for his adopted county was, as so often seems to happen, back at Trent Bridge in June 1889; Surrey were heavily defeated but Lockwood gave his old county some notice of what was to come, scoring 13 and 12no and taking three first innings wickets in the space of six runs. For the next five seasons, Lockwood and Richardson, with their pace and sharp break-back, were an irresistible combination but whilst Richardson was a success on the 1894/95 tour of Australia, Lockwood struggled and that seemed to affect his home form. Lockwood narrowly escaped both drowning and losing an arm in separate incidents on the tour, and when he returned to England his wife and a child both died. In despair, he started drinking heavily and his weight increased, greatly reducing his effectiveness.
By the end of the 1896 tour he was no longer a regular for Surrey, though still capable of devastating spells, and his career looked finished. In 1898, he had re-married, slimmed down and re-ignited his cricket to the extent that he not only was bowling as well as ever but scoring runs too, making three centuries in the season. In 1899 he made 1,000 runs in the season for the first time and repeated the feat the following year.
The partnership with Richardson continued but the seasons took their toll and both bowlers had lost form and their place in the Surrey team by the end of the 1903 summer.
In 1905 he was coach at Westminster School and the following year coached Essex CCC. Apart from his visit to Australia, he also coached in Capetown in 1896/7. He returned to his native county of Nottinghamshire and as late as 1910 was playing for Sir Julien Cahn’s Nottinghamshire Ramblers, on one occasion taking 7-8 v Spilsby. From 1925-27 Lockwood was coach at Denstone College but had to retire through ill health.
In a lengthy and impressive career, he played 12 Test Matches – with a top score of 52no from 231 runs at 17.76 and 43 wickets at 20.53 with a best return of 7-71 against Australia in 1899, in which year he was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year. In First-Class cricket he scored 10,673 runs at 21.96 with 15 centuries, 48 Fifties and a top score of 165, made v Leicestershire. He took 1,376 First-Class wickets at 18.34, with an extraordinary 121 five-wicket hauls and taking 10 wickets in a match 29 times; his best figures were 9-59 against Essex.
A true great of the game – Sir Pelham Warner and Ranjitsinhji rated him the best they played against – who had to leave Trent Bridge to find his form and fame.
William Lockwood was born on 25 March 1868 in Old Radford and died back in Radford in 1932, a month after his 64th birthday.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 189