William Clarke of Kirkby-in-Ashfield was the least successful of the three players with that name to have represented Notts, but of sufficient quality that his obituary in Wisden says: ‘in the neighbourhood of Kirkby, where he was born and lived, he was known as Cricketer Clarke’.
He was a right-hand fast round-arm bowler and a useful, hard-hitting left-hand bat who specialised in fielding at short slip. This William Clarke appeared for the XXII Colts v the County in April 1876, scoring 25 and 6 and having the analysis of 23-13-12-4, which may have earned him his place with the Colts of Nottinghamshire & Yorkshire v Colts of England at Lord’s a week or so later.
Again in 1876, he made his First-Class debut for Notts v MCC, also at Lord’s and played four more games that season. The following year he played for the county v the XXII Colts and against Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge, this being his final First-Class match. That Wisden obit records that Clarke ‘had the satisfaction of seeing WG Grace caught off his bowling for three’; it doesn’t record that in both Notts innings, Clarke fell victim to the Grand Old Man, on each occasion being caught by Grace’s brother George.
Clarke’s First-Class tallies were 82 runs at 8.20 with a top score of 17; four wickets for 126 runs at 31.50 and a best return of 2-60.
Away from the county side, his engagements included Mapperley CC, Haslingden, the Elland Club, and Derbyshire CCC and Great Harwood CC together between 1874-6; he made a single appearance for Derbyshire in 1874 v XXII Colts and scored 103 for Harwood in 1875. Between 1877 and 1892 he was coach to the Royal Artillery Officers at Woolwich.
Born in Kirkby-in-Ashfield on 17 March 1850, he was originally in the hosiery trade in that town and, from about 1890 until his death on 29 May 1935, in Mapperley, Nottingham, kept an off-licence in Kirkby. He left a substantial estate, valued on probate at £30,999.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 146