Although he was born in the village of Calverton on December 7th 1856, Wilfred Flowers is, to all intents and purposes, a product of the Sutton-in-Ashfield cricket nursery, since he moved to that town in early childhood.
Flowers batted and bowled right-handed and was a good fielder, generally at third man or mid-wicket.
During the first few seasons in the County XI he was employed mainly as a useful change bowler who was able to score a few quick runs at number 7 or 8. Shaw and Morley dominated the Nottinghamshire attack at this time, leaving little work for other Nottinghamshire bowlers. In their absence, v Leicestershire at Nottingham in 1878, Flowers proved his capabilities by taking 11 for 40 and when, for once Shaw and Morley made no impact on a sodden pitch at Lord’s in 1879, Flowers completely demolished the Middlesex batting with an analysis of 22-12-16-7.
A member of the group of Nottinghamshire players who went on strike in 1881, Flowers was the first to come to terms with the committee and the match that signalled his return brought him figures of 12.2 – 11- 23 – 8, the best he ever attained for Nottinghamshire in a single innings and he finished with match figures of 12 for 85.
For M.C.C. Flowers performed with conspicuous success. His most outstanding match for the premier club came at Lord’s in 1884; Flowers bowled unchanged through the two completed innings of Cambridge University, taking 51-39-20-6 and 48-21-60-8 and out of M.C.C.’s run total of 228 in their single innings he hit 122 in two and a half hours, mostly by hard driving.
Apart from matches for Nottinghamshire and M.C.C, Flowers achieved three noteworthy feats against the Australian tourists. For the North at Trent Bridge in 1884 he scored 90, adding with R.G. Barlow 18 for the 6th wicket; for the Players at Trent Bridge in 1886 he, again with Barlow, created a new record wicket partnership in first-class cricket, when they added 172 for the 9th wicket, Flowers making 93; for an XI selected by Staffordshire club in 1890 he took 11 wickets for 88.
So far as Test cricket is concerned, Flowers represented England at home on just one occasion – the Lord’s match of 1893, he having been brought into the side owing to the enforced absence of W.W. Read.
Flowers toured Australia with Shaw and Shrewsbury’s teams in 1884-85 and 1886-87. On the former tour his best bowling figures were 44.3- 26-31-8 in Victoria’s 2nd innings at Melbourne and in the third Test at Sydney he made 56 in England’s second innings – the highest score of the match, when he was the last man out with England just seven runs from victory.
On his other trip to Australia, his bowling figures against New South Wales on November 19th and 20th make curious reading: 5-4-3-3 and 17-12-8-2. He played in all Test matches played on both tours and together with the Test in England, his complete record in international matches is 254 runs at an average of 18.14 and 14 wickets at an average of 21.14. He played in eight matches.
Flowers last first-class match, took place in 1896 and in 1899 he finished his engagement at Lord’s. His connection with cricket however, continued, since he stood as first-class umpire from 1907 to 1912. Whilst residing in Sutton in Ashefild he was, in the winter, a framework knitter, but in 1887 he moved to Daybrook and in 1897 to Carlton, being employed as a lacehand.
He died suddenly at his place of work on November 1 1926.