In the winter of 1978-79, Ken Taylor, the Notts Cricket Manager, made what, in retrospect was an inspired signing, but what at the time looked a rather dodgy deal. The player in question had been on the Warwickshire playing staff for thirteen seasons. A medium pace bowler his first-class figures in 1978 read 28 wickets at 40.78. In the preceding summer his statistics had been 46 wickets at 36.73. In purely statistical terms this appeared to be a player on his way out.
Taylor was proved right in his gamble. Hemmings' off-breaks took 62 wickets at 28.54 during his first Trent Bridge summer and he scored some useful runs as well. By his third season, 1981, he was really in his stride, with 90 wickets at 20.63. Nottinghamshire won the Championship title and most of the applause went the way of Hadlee and Rice, but a report at the time commented: `On the basis that bowlers win matches, the performances of off-spinner Eddie Hemmings deserve special recognition.' It will be recalled that the county were accused of producing pitches at home to suit the bowling of Hadlee and Rice, but, in fact, over half Hemmings' wickets were taken at Trent Bridge and he was the second most destructive Notts bowler that year.
Certainly the England selectors thought that Hemmings had improved vastly since his arrival at Trent Bridge; in 1982, at the age of 33 he was awarded his first England cap, playing against Pakistan. Then in the winter tour which followed he found himself a member of the England team to Australia. He bowled particularly well in the Adelaide Test on that trip, but amazed everyone at Sydney, by going in as nightwatchman and saving England with an innings of 95 - shades of Larwood fifty years earlier!
This was not the only odd statistic for Hemmings that winter. On a brief tour to West Indies he created a new Caribbean record by taking all ten wickets in an innings versus a West Indian XI at Kingston. This was the first time such a feat had been performed there in a first-class eleven-a-side game.
Hemmings' international career continued in the 1987 World Cup in India. Hemmings return of four for 52 enabled England to reach the finals in Calcutta. He returned to Australia with the England sides of 1987-88 and 1990-91, but played in only one Test on each visit; the latter tour saw the closure of his England career.
Turning back to his Notts' statistics, he was again one of the key players when Notts won the Championship for a second time in the 1980s - 88 wickets at 24.07 in 1987. Better recalled though is his winning hit off the last possible ball during the 1989 B&H Final. In general Hemmings was just as effective in One Day cricket. His career total in the Sunday League (for Notts) is 166 wickets, a figure only exceeded by Rice. Hemmings also stands second among wicket-takers in the NatWest/C&G Competition.
Edward Ernest Hemmings was born in Leamington Spa on 20 February 1949 and made his first-class debut, at the age of 17, in 1966 for Warwickshire. He seemed to model himself in those early days on Tom Cartwright, but never quite succeeded in emulating that great all-rounder, though he was capped by Warwickshire in 1974. His career with Notts ended in 1992. Most players aged 43 settle for retirement, but Hemmings found a third county in Sussex and had three seasons with them, by which time his total first-class wicket haul was 1,515. In recent years he has played alongside his two sons in Notts club cricket.
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