Although he was born in the village of Calverton on December 7 1856, Wilfred Flowers isa product of the Sutton-in-Ashfield cricket nursery, having moved there in early childhood.

Flowers, who batted and bowled right-handed and was a good fielder, generally at third man or mid-wicket, joined Nottinghamshire in 1877 and played for them for almost 20 years.

During the first few seasons in the County XI he was employed mainly as a useful change bowler 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 16-7.

A member of the group of Nottinghamshire players that 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; he finished with match figures of 12 for 85.

For MCC 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 20-6 and 60-8 then out of MCC’s 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 MCC, Flowers achieved three noteworthy feats against the Australian tourists. For the North at Trent Bridge in 1884 he scored 90; for the Players at Trent Bridge in 1886 he, with  R G Barlow, created a then record wicket partnership in first-class cricket, adding 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 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 make curious reading: 5-4-3-3 and 17-12-8-2.

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.

Wifred came from a cricketing family - his cousin Tom played (just once) for Nottinghamshire and his cousin was the great Yorkshire stalwart, and favourite of Neville Cardus, Emmott Robinson.

He died suddenly at his place of work on November 1 1926.

 

April 2020