Joe Knowles, who died in Nottingham on 13 September 1993, had an unusual start to his career in that he joined Notts as an apprentice groundsman. In May 1927, at the age of 17 he applied for a trial in the nets, but failed to impress the coach. The following year, he again was given a net trial and it was agreed that he should move from groundsman to groundstaff. He was on the playing staff for no less than seven seasons before he made his First-Class debut, against Kent at Trent Bridge on 18 May 1935 – he had been for some seasons seconded to Langwith in the Bassetlaw League. He scored 51 in 87 minutes on his first appearance. In his third match v Hampshire at Trent Bridge he made 73 and these two innings enabled him to keep his place in the Notts side for most of 1935. Against the South Africans in July he captured of Dudley Nourse during the first over he bowled in First-Class cricket and a few weeks later he took three for 55, including Sutcliffe, in the match with Yorkshire, but soon the county batsmen got the hang of his slow leg-breaks and he played purely as a batsman.
In 1936, Knowles hit his first hundred for Notts, 104no v Glamorgan at Trent Bridge, but, that innings apart, had little success and could not command a regular place. He was more prolific in 1937 and reached fifty on seven occasions. In 1938 he scored a thousand runs in the season for the only time (1,179 runs @25.08) and he hit a career best 114 at New Road against Worcestershire. However, the expected improvement in his batting did not materialise. He was fortunate to keep his place in the side in 1939 as he scored 738 runs and only reached 50 four times.
During the war he served in the Army and played occasionally for Notts. He rejoined the staff in 1946 but was unable to keep a place in the First Eleven, playing in only five matches, and decided to accept an offer as groundsman to the Police Sports Field in Carrington, Nottingham. A quiet spoken, conscientious man, Joe Knowles, born 25 March 1910, lived in Forest Fields, Nottingham and in later years regularly attended the reunions of the Notts Old Players.
In 125 First-Class games for Notts, Knowles scored 4,194 runs @24.67 and took 34 wickets @42.38.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 354