County Championship – Joint Champions - W 5, L 1, D1
Captain – R Daft
The continued success of Notts encouraged new members and the membership rose to 400. The Committee decided on the erection of a new pavilion, designed by Dutton Walker, on the opposite side of the ground to the Trent Bridge Inn. The pavilion ‘a sightly structure, the interior being exceedingly well-appointed’ was opened for the Easter Colts Trial of 1873. Glorious sunshine produced crowds of 8,000 and 6,000 on the two days. The press thought that the new pavilion should have incorporated some accommodation for them. The prize bat was won for his 35 by Arthur Shrewsbury who ‘bats with carefulness and ease and is a most promising player’.
As for 1872 there was a problem with Grace and the Gloucestershire fixture. The correspondence between GB Davy, the Notts secretary, and WG Grace was published in the press on 2 May 1873. Grace wanted to alter one of the Gloucester v Notts match dates to suit a benefit match in which Grace had promised to play. Notts, at considerable financial loss to the county, cancelled both Gloucestershire fixtures. In place of one they played a County Eleven v Next Fifteen game – the receipts for this match was £88.11s.0d – less than a third of the money which might have been taken at a Gloucester match.
The regulations preventing players from appearing for two counties in any single season were agreed early in the 1873 season, the first official regulations governing specifically county cricket and applying to all counties, not merely the handful who constituted the ‘First-Class’ variety.
The opening county game was against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge, Notts winning by an innings and 120 runs. It turned into another triumph for Richard Daft. He created a new Trent Bridge and Notts record by hitting 161 out of a Notts total of 355. Yorkshire (65 and 170) failed twice against the two Shaws – Jemmy 8-99, Alfred 9-76. Alfred had had a most unfortunate accident during the winter when a powder flask exploded whilst he was out shooting but happily, he had suffered no permanent injury. For the season’s second match, also at Trent Bridge, Surrey produced a very feeble side. Ted Pooley the wicket-keeper had been dropped for some misdemeanour and Morris and Strachan, two amateurs, were picked but failed to come. Notts won the game in two days by six wickets, Jemmy Shaw taking 11-95 in the match. At the Oval for the return, Surrey were better represented, but Martin McIntyre (8-55) had sudden revival of form and bowled Surrey out in their second innings for 113, Notts winning by 119 runs. Surrey’s Henry Jupp had an outstanding match with the bat, in the first innings was ninth out for 53 out of 102, opening again in the second, he finished unbeaten with 51.
After a lapse of seven years the fixture with Sussex was renewed, though the Southern County were still very much in the doldrums. The meeting at Trent Bridge was won by Notts by nine wickets, William Oscroft scoring 84 in Notts first innings total of 212; Fred Morley had match figures of 10-101. Notts won the return at Hove by 10 wickets. Notts dismissed Sussex for 19 (Alfred Shaw 6-8, Morley 3-11). The match actually began half an hour late because of the absence of some Sussex cricketers, but at 1.20 pm the side were all out. Sussex fared slightly better in the second innings, making 96 (Shaw 6-38, Morley 4-49). The final official match of 1873 was the return with Yorkshire at Bramall Lane. Rain washed out a fair proportion of the contest leaving the game in an interesting position. Yorkshire 102 (Morley 5-49) and 136 (Jemmy Shaw 7-47); Notts 79 (Tom Emmett 5-35, Allen Hill 5-41) and 12-0.
There followed two matches which were the cause of some embarrassment to the county. Richard Daft was asked by the executives of the Huddersfield Club to bring a Notts team to their ground to play a Yorkshire side at the end of August. Yorkshire scored 194 on a batting wicket (Alfred Smith 89, Morley 5-50), but before Notts could get started rain ruined the pitch and Notts were bundled out twice for 104 and 66, losing by an innings and 24 runs. Although the Notts secretary wrote to the press explaining that the match, the third between the counties in 1873, had nothing to do with the County Club, the cricket journalists still included it in their assessment of the County Championship thus Notts playing record became played 7, won 5, lost 1, drawn 1. Notts were thus bracketed with Gloucestershire as joint champions in 1873. If they had played each other then this tie would have probably been resolved.
This was however not quite as unpleasant as the match arranged in September against Derbyshire. The Derbyshire Club had played a few eleven-a-side matches against First-Class county teams in 1871, 1872 and 1873, but Notts insisted that Derbyshire should be allowed sixteen players. Without Alfred Shaw and Biddulph, Notts dismissed the sixteen for 114, but were then were bowled out for 14 (Flint 6-7, Mycroft 4-6). It was a humiliating spectacle. Notts lost by an innings and eight runs. The Nottingham Journal remarked in its notes of the year: ‘The season of 1873 has been by no means as brilliant as the one preceding it and the acknowledged superiority of the lace county’s eleven has received a rude shock’.
WG Grace took his team to Australia during the winter. Martin McIntyre and William Oscroft were the Notts members of the twelve. McIntyre headed the bowling averages but Oscroft was not very successful with the bat.
James Grundy died quite suddenly at his residence, the Midland Inn, Carrington Street, on 24 November and many of the Notts County players attended the funeral of their former colleague.
Notts County came back to Trent Bridge for their home matches of 1873-74 and in December the Journal commented: ‘Football is now almost, if not quite, as popular as cricket’.
An additional sum of £328.1s.9d went towards fitting out the pavilion, bringing the total cost to £1,432.2s.11d, which produced a working loss on the year, so that the club’s balance had dwindled to £44.13s.8d – the absence of the Gloucestershire fixture was the major factor.
The team which played through 1873 was, quite remarkably, unchanged – ten of the side appeared in every match, namely Daft, Oscroft, Thomas Bignall, Fred Wyld, Martin McIntyre, wicket-keeper Sam Biddulph, Alfred Shaw, Jemmy Shaw, John Selby and Morley. Notts weakness lay in its batting, as Lillywhite’s Cricketers’ Annual pointed out: ‘Daft cannot last forever and Bignall does not decrease in bulk. Wyld was not up to his form of 1872 and Selby was of little use at all with the bat, however valuable in the field. Oscroft once or twice played as he only can when in form, but the rest did little, as Marin McIntyre came off rarely and Alfred Shaw, Biddulph, Morley and Jemmy Shaw, the other stock assistants are only uncertain at their best’.
Daft led the batting with 369 runs @41.00 and three other players averaged above 20, namely Oscroft (224 runs @22.40), Bignall (243 runs @21.09) and Wyld (210 runs @21.00). The bowling was dominated by Morley (35 wickets @10.71), Alfred Shaw (43 wickets @11.09) and Jemmy Shaw (32 wickets @11.37).