Thomas Barker, born in Carlton on 15 November 1798, was a talented all-rounder and quite probably the instigator of a mode of dismissal that causes controversy in the modern game.
His bowling - he bowled both round-arm and under-arm - was extremely fast. ‘So violent was it, that he sometimes ran up to the crease and propelled his instrument of attack as though his head would follow the ball’ commented Denison.
He made his Nottingham debut in 1821 versus Leicester and played in the Club's first First-Class match v Sheffield in 1826, thus earning the number one in the County's list of players. In 1834 Barker was the first Nottingham professional to appear in the Gentlemen v Players match series.
In August 1836 he appeared for Yorkshire - this was before counties like Notts and the Tykes insisted on only picking 'home' players - to great effect. Against Norfolk, he made the highest score of the match, 30, in the first innings, took three wickets, all members of the great Pilch family, and ran out Charles Wright when he backed-up too far.
In 2023, some diligent research showed that Barker did this running out of the non-striker on at least five occasions, prompting mischievious suggestions that the much-reviled 'Mankading' shoulld eb re-named 'Barkering'! (Full article here)
His last match for Notts was in 1845, but in 1843 he fell out of a cab crossing London and the injuries received virtually ended his career. Barker played in 72 First-Class games, making 1,269 runs at 10.57; his best innings was his only half-century, 58 v Kent. His First-Class wicket tally was 211 at an average of 19.18; on four occasions he took ten wickets in a match and had 15 five-wicket hauls. He also took 34 catches, to underline his all-round credentials.
Famous among fellow cricketers for his joviality, good fellowship and also his ‘whisper’. The best known story occurred when Barker arrived at Lord’s and Dark, the owner at the time, stood in the ground expecting him.
Barker was surprised of Dark’s prior knowledge, but the latter dryly remarked that he had heard Barker the moment he alighted from the train at St Pancras.
Barker was engaged at Lord’s, mainly as an umpire and stood in almost one hundred matches, 70 of those First-Class fixtures. He lived in London during the season but returned to Nottingham each winter and continued his trade as a stockiner.
Thomas Barker died in Nottingham on 2 March 1877.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 1