Peter Harvey, who died aged 83 at his home in Oadby, Leicestershire on 19 July 2006, was the County’s principal spin bowler in the five seasons between 1948 and 1952. The arrival of Bruce Dooland and Gamini Goonesena in 1953 made Harvey’s leg spin surplus to requirements. He found himself for the final years of his career at Trent Bridge mainly in the Second XI, though he did return to the top grade on occasion, more as a batsman who could bowl, than as a specialist bowler. He retired at the close of 1958 to take up a business appointment.
Born in Linby on 15 January 1923, Harvey was educated at Henry Mellish County Secondary School, which was at that time a hot bed for cricket. He was in the school first eleven for two summers and looked so promising that he played representative cricket for Notts Schoolboys; his local cricket was mainly for Hucknall CC. During the war he served in REME and at the end of the conflict was stationed in the South of England. As a result he had trials with Hampshire, but he returned to his native county and, in 1947, was taken on the Trent Bridge staff.
Success in that first summer in the Minor Counties competition – he headed the Notts bowling averages – meant he made his first-class debut on 6 August against Somerset at Trent Bridge. He took three wickets, but as No. 9 did not bat in what was a high scoring draw. Retained in the Notts side for the next match at Trent Bridge against Derbyshire, he saw Notts bat first and be dismissed for 191. In reply, Derbyshire hit 496 for three declared. Going in for a second time, Notts lost five wickets and were still 89 adrift when Harvey joined Harry Winrow at the wicket – there was plenty of time for Derbyshire to capture the last five wickets and clinch an overwhelming victory. To everybody’s amazement, Harvey and Winrow created a new record partnership which stood for 54 years; an unbroken 303, at which the umpires drew stumps. Harvey made 125 not out, Winrow 204 not out.
The following summer, Harvey was an automatic choice for the First Team and in some quarters he was tipped as a possible Test player. In the match at the Canterbury, Harvey had match figures of 10 for 168. A note at the close of the campaign commented. “The big advance of Harvey was one of the few bright spots for Notts.” He had taken 61 wickets at 30.93 (Trent Bridge was a batsman’s paradise) and was picked to represent the North v South at Hastings in September. He captured the wickets of two notable batsmen in this game, namely Bill Edrich and Jack Robertson.
In the early part of 1949 he rather lost his form, but later came back so successfully that he was awarded his county cap. Against Somerset at Trent Bridge, he had career best innings bowling figures of 8-122 and against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge he took 11-202 in the match.
1951 was probably Harvey’s best summer, he had almost twice as many wickets as any other Notts bowler with 73 and scored 784 runs, including a career best 150 in six and half hours against Leicestershire at Grace Road. As has been noted, from the advent of Dooland in 1953 Harvey’s cricket was mainly in the Minor Counties competition, where he demonstrated that he was formidable all-rounder. If the modern system of player transfers had operated then, Harvey might have moved counties. In 1956 for example, he took 64 wickets and hit 449 runs as Notts finished third in the Minor Counties table. His last game for the first-team was versus Sussex at Trent Bridge in August 1958. In 173 first-class matches for Notts, Harvey scored 3,632 runs @18.53 and took 332 wickets @35.69.
Away from the sports field, Harvey was a man of principle and his Methodist upbringing meant he did not believe in playing cricket on a Sunday. In the 1950s, most Sundays were filled with half-day benefit matches against local clubs. It must be said that Harvey’s refusal to take part in these games made him rather unpopular with some of the senior Notts players.
During his playing days, Harvey was employed in the winter by Redmayne and Todd, the sports outfitters of Canal Street. He left Trent Bridge in 1958, when he was appointed manager of the Leicester branch of that firm. Whilst in Leicester, he continued for quite a few years playing cricket for Leicester Town CC.