Wilf Payton first played for Nottinghamshire in 1905, was a member of two Championship winning sides and featured regularly in the County eleven until his retirement in 1931. He played in 489 First-Class matches for Notts, a number only surpassed by George Gunn, and is the only player to have achieved more than one hundred consecutive appearances on two occasions.
Wilfred Richard Daniel Payton was born in Stapleford on 13 February 1882. He made his Nottinghamshire debut against Kent at Trent Bridge in July 1905 and played in five matches that season. From the following year he remained a permanent member of the side until he retired at the age of 49. Payton was a middle order batsman with a strong defence and a wide range of strokes, particularly on the on-side of the wicket. With his sound technique, he was often called upon to rescue the Notts innings after the fall of early wickets.
The first of his 39 centuries came when he made 113 against the touring West Indians in August 1906. The following year Payton was a member of the Nottinghamshire County Championship winning side of 1907 under the captaincy of A O Jones, playing in 18 of the 20 fixtures. His maiden Championship hundred came that season in the August Bank Holiday fixture against Surrey at The Oval. Coming in at the fall of the 6th wicket, he hit an unbeaten 149, an innings that remains the highest recorded by any Nottinghamshire batsman coming in at number 8 in the batting order.
Payton played many significant innings for the County but failed to achieve 1,000 runs in a season until 1921, his twelfth as a professional. From then on, he exceeded 1,000 runs in every season until 1929 and fell only one run short in 1930. He best return of 1,864 runs came in 1926 and for five years from 1925, he averaged over forty each season.
In 1929 he was a key member of Arthur Carr’s Championship winning side, sharing with George Gunn the distinction of having also appeared in the victorious side of 1907. His highest career score came that season when he hit 169 against Lancashire at Trent Bridge. Payton was still batting well in 1930 when he began to be left out of the side in the interests of encouraging younger talent. Injuries earned him a recall to the side for his final four games in 1931 and in his last appearance, in June 1931 against Warwickshire, he hit 65. At 49 years, 168 days old, he is the seventh oldest player to have appeared for Nottinghamshire.
Wilf Payton’s final run tally for the County was 22,079 and, on his retirement, only George and John Gunn had scored more First-Class runs for Nottinghamshire. He now stands in eighth place on the all-time run scoring list, a position unlikely to be overhauled given the changes in the domestic cricket structure. His bowling was used very rarely as a career record of one wicket from 13 overs testifies. After cricket, he stayed in the area, owning a sports outfitters shop in Beeston.
Payton’s younger brother, Albert, and his son, Granville, both played for Nottinghamshire, but had much briefer careers, appearing in one game each. As a reward for his own long and distinguished services to the county, Wilf Payton was awarded two benefits by the County Club, in 1921 and 1930, which realised a total of £1,625. He died at the age of 61 in Beeston Fields on 2 May 1943.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 290