County Championship – Champions (W 6, L 1)
Captain – G Parr
With a season’s tally of six wins in seven matches, the press declared Nottinghamshire the Champion County for the year. Sussex and Yorkshire were both beaten twice and Surrey and Cambridgeshire once each. Notts’ only defeat was a controversial one in the return against Surrey at the Oval. A contemporary cricket annual noted: ‘The County is now wonderfully strong in batting, bowling and fielding and wicket-keeping.’
Including all First-Class matches played in 1865. Notts men occupied the three top places in the bowling averages, viz: Jemmy Shaw (44 wickets @10.81), John Jackson (29 wickets @11.72) and George Wootton (84 wickets @11.91); and William Oscroft (518 runs @43.16 in nine matches) topped the batting averages.
The Colts match opened the Trent Bridge season of 1865 on 17 and 18 April. The Colts team was reduced from twenty-two to sixteen this year and there was a stipulation that applicants for the Colts side must be under 30 years of age.
The season proved to be best yet enjoyed by Notts. Sussex were overwhelmed by an innings and 86 runs in the first match at Trent Bridge. Richard Daft (67) and George Parr (54) produced a fourth wicket partnership of 122 as Notts made 208 all out. Sussex were bowled out for 84 (James Grundy 5-37, Wootton 4-26). But the astonishing performance of the match came in Sussex’s second innings of 38, when Grundy returned figures of 24.3-21-6-5; Wootton at the other end produced 24-10-32-5. Oscroft saved Notts in the Surrey match, opening the innings and carrying his bat for an undefeated 53, the side being all out for 94. Surrey had earlier made 137 and collapsed in their second innings to 81 as John ‘Foghorn’ Jackson took 7-25. Notts required 125 to win and were 30-2 at one stage but Tom Bignall (47 not out) and Daft (52 not out) added an unbroken 95 for third wicket as Notts won by eight wickets. Jemmy Shaw (3-10 and 2-45) made his debut in this fixture. Shaw, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, either by accident or design gave his age as 26, though in fact he was 29. Left-handed as both bat and bowler, his bowling action appeared to look as if he would tire, most of his delivery being in the arm alone which he brought from behind in almost a whip like way. Rather slim and youthful looking at first, his frame soon filled out and with addition of a thick moustache, his appearance changed quite radically. He was unfortunately cross-eyed, but this blemish proved most disconcerting to opposing batsman, as can be imagined. He had remarkable career playing in every First-Class match from the day of his debut until his final appearance ten years later.
Fresh from their victory over their arch rivals, Notts went to Great Horton Road at Bradford and beat Yorkshire by an innings and 30 runs. Richard Daft top scored with 66 as Notts made 233. Cris Tinley took 7-60 as Yorkshire were 130 all out and following-on could only make 73, despite George Atkinson carrying his bat for 30. Jemmy Shaw (4-29) and Jackson (4-9) were the pick of the second innings bowlers as the game finished with a day to spare. In the return at the Oval, Parr stood down as he still refused to play on that ground, following the arguments of 1862. His absence made all the difference, for Notts lost by the narrow margin of one wicket. Notts electing to bat made 157 (Oscroft 67). Jemmy Shaw took 6-95 as Surrey obtained a first innings lead of 13. Oscroft (34) and Charles Brampton (86) added 74 for the opening wicket as Notts made 207 in their second innings. Surrey required 195 for victory and James Grundy clean bowled six of their batsman as at one stage they stood at 141-8. The home team required 14 runs when the last man Thomas Sewell came to the wicket. Grundy had dismissed Edward Dowson to take the ninth wicket, Sewell then made two off Grundy’s last ball. Heathfield Stephenson (75 not out), at the other end, batted out a maiden from Jackson. Sewell (14 not out) hit a four and a single off Grundy’s next over and facing Jackson scored two off his second delivery and then made a five, to win the match off his third ball. Grundy had remarkably bowled throughout the innings to have figures of 74-34-70-8. Notts supporters claimed that Sewell was given ‘not out’ when he was clearly stumped and earlier Grundy was adjudged caught off a ball which hit his arm. As a result there was so much ill-feeling that the match was not played for the next two seasons.
In the return with Yorkshire at Trent Bridge, Jemmy Shaw bowled Notts to a 55-run victory returning figures of 12-85 (4-53 and 8-32) as Yorkshire were dismissed for 191 and 53. It should however be mentioned that five of the Yorkshire professionals, who were at loggerheads with the Sheffield-based county committee, refused to play. The Manchester club arranged a match at Old Trafford between Notts and Cambridgeshire in mid-August. Notts won the contest by an innings and 86 runs. There was a new record opening partnership of 146 by Oscroft (78) and Brampton (79) as Notts made 236 (Tom Hayward 7-73). Cambridgeshire could only muster as 86 (Shaw 6-33) and 64 (Jackson 6-38, Shaw 4-24). Notts closed their season with a two-day triumph at the Royal Brunswick Ground in Hove. Sussex made 118 as Tinley took 7-58. Oscroft made 107 as Notts replied with 245, George Wells taking 7-67. Sussex subsided to 77 all out (Tinley 5-38, Jemmy Shaw 4-39) to lose by an innings and 50 runs.
Young Oscroft (463 runs 51.44) of Arnold was clearly the batsman of the year, then came Daft (251 runs @35.86), Brampton (249 runs @31.12), Parr (138 runs @23.00) and Bignall (149 runs @21.29). The leading bowlers were Grundy (30 wickets @9.10), Jackson (22 wickets @10.59), Jemmy Shaw (44 wickets @10.73), Tinley (21 wickets @13.38) and George Wootton (13 wickets @14.77). Sam Biddulph behind the stumps had 14 dismissals, including 6 stumpings.
The Mansfield cricketer, John Hilton, played against Surrey substituting for Brampton who had a sprained wrist. He moved to Staffordshire and died in 1910 of blood poisoning, after cutting his corns with a razor. The third debutant of 1865 was George Paling, an attacking batsman and excellent fielder, who played for the All England Eleven for several years and occasionally for the County.