In The Cricketer of July 1993 two pages are devoted to describing exactly how Stephenson bowled and disguised his infamous 'slower' ball. The final sentence in the article asks Stephenson if he is giving away his secret, he replies by saying he even tells opposing batsmen how it is done, but they still fall for his 'total deception'.

Watching batsmen duck to avoid Stephenson's beamer, only to see them bowled by a slow delivery, was a pleasure which Notts' spectators enjoyed for all too short a period.

To the army of general cricket buffs, Stephenson was almost unknown when he was signed by Notts in 1988 to take on the awesome task of filling the gap left by Hadlee and Rice. In the welter of regulation it has probably been forgotten that in 1988 Notts were cut back to one overseas player in any eleven. In the event Stephenson appeared in 20 Championship games, missing two through injury with Cairns playing in those.

Up until 1988, Stephenson had appeared in just eight first class games in England with varied results.

By the end of the 1988 summer, Stephenson had completed the Double with 1,018 runs @ 29.08 and 125 wickets @ 18.31. No one has managed the feat since.

The last Championship match of the year at Trent Bridge must remain one of the most memorable contests ever staged in Nottingham. Yorkshire scored 380, with Stephenson taking four for 105. Notts reached 166 for five and seemed to be heading for the follow on. Stephenson, who had never hit a hundred for the County then made 111.

Yorkshire batted a second time, declaring with seven wickets down at 340. Stephenson had taken all seven wickets (eleven in the match). The main Notts batsmen again failed in the final innings, but Stephenson hit 117. The feat of two separate hundreds in a match plus 10 wickets had never been achieved before for Notts and only twice in the entire history of the game.

That feat also mean he had completed the cricket 'Double' of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in the same season - only the second time since the County Championship was shortened in 1969 that it had been done.  Notts fans will note with some pride that the previous all-rounder to achieve the Double was another Trent Bridge favourite, Sir Richard Hadlee, in 1984.

In 1989 Stephenson took 92 wickets @ 18.77, easily topping the Notts bowling table and coming sixth in the First-Class averages. His batting couldn't match that of 1988, but he still hit some very useful runs at no 6 or 7. His batting improved in 1990, but niggling injuries affected his bowling. His bowling talent returned in 1991 when he was easily Notts best bowler both in terms of average and bag, but his approach to the game was not to the liking of Birch, the Cricket Manager, and Notts released him.

Franklyn da Costa Stephenson was born in St James, Barbados on 8 April 1959. He came to England as a professional in the Central Lancashire League in 1979, before making his First-Class debut in the winter of 1981-82, both for Barbados and for Tasmania (he had that sort of career). In 1982 he played a handful of games for Gloucestershire, then decided to go on the rebel West Indian tour to South Africa. That decision had him banned for life from all cricket in West Indies (the ban was later rescinded).

He toured South Africa a second time in 1983-84. Later he signed for Orange Free State and after leaving Notts joined Sussex for four seasons. His First-Class career finally closed in 1996-97. He is also a top-class golfer and currently resides in Barbados.

Stephenson was back on familiar Trent Bridge turf during the 2019 Cricket World Cup to promote his autobiography, 'My Song Shall Be Cricket', that became one of the best-selling sports books of the year.

November 2023

Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 506

See Franklyn Stephenson's career stats here

Copies of My Song Shall be Cricket are available to Notts CCC members in the Wynne Thomas LIbrary