Having played 80 games for Nottinghamshire and taken more than 200 wickets with his left-arm slow-medium bowling, William Riley might reasonably have expected not to be remembered for the day he scored 10no with the bat. But he was the junior partner in the most remarkable, and certainly the best known, 10th wicket partnership in the county’s history.
Riley had the best view on the Hove ground in 1911 when fellow bowler Ted Alletson launched an astonishing attack on the Sussex bowlers, scoring 142 of their 152-run partnership in just 40 minutes, including 34 off one Tim Killick over – a record not challenged until a certain Garry Sobers took 36 off the unfortunate Malcolm Nash at Swansea in 1968.
Riley played his own significant part in the Sussex game, taking 4-82 as Notts came close to a dramatic victory. His 10no was a long way from his best score in First-Class cricket of 48 (he never made a fifty).
He was in the side principally as a bowler and a year before the events of 1911 he had taken three wickets in four balls, also against Sussex in an away game. In his 80 First-Class matches he took 235 wickets at 23.39, with a career-best 7-80, ten five-wicket hauls and twice took ten wickets in a match. He scored 740 runs at an average of just 8.60 but only ten of them are in the record books.
He was born on 11 August 1888 at Newstead and played for the local Colliery team before joining the Notts ground staff in 1908; his First-Class debut was made, where else, against Sussex at Brighton in 1909 and his final game for the county was v MCC at Lord’s in August 1914.
William Riley was one of Nottinghamshire’s cricketers who gave their lives in World War One, succumbing to a shell splinter wound in Flanders, Belgium, on 9 August 1917, two days before his 29th birthday, whilst serving as a gunner with the 133rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.