County Championship – W 5, L 5, D 2
Captain – R Daft
1877 was a season of two halves for Notts, winning five of their first six games, they lost four of their last six matches and drew the other two only due to the elements. The critics were full of doom and despondency. Lillywhite’s Companion stated after a home defeat against Kent at the end of August that “The Trent Bridge spectators must have been woefully disappointed when they saw the representatives of their famous county club defeated in a single innings by Kent’.
Before the 1877 season began, John Selby and Alfred Shaw had travelled halfway round the world and played in the very first Test match at Melbourne in March, Shaw actually bowling the first ball and Selby keeping wicket in absence of Ted Pooley, detained on criminal charges in New Zealand. Selby also has the dubious distinction of being the first English wicket to fall in a Test.
Notts’ reliance on two bowlers was cruelly exposed for, after two matches, Shaw, who taken 16 wickets @8.18, was taken ill with bronchitis and unable to play again the whole summer. The first three matches were won. In the second week of June, Lancashire were defeated by 45 runs at Trent Bridge. Fred Morley had figures of 10-77, including 7-20 in the Lancashire second innings of 46 all out. Notts headed straight to the St Lawrence Ground at Canterbury and won by 239 runs. Notts obtained a first innings lead of 63 runs as Shaw, in his final appearance of the summer, took 5-28 at Kent were bowled out for 94. William Barnes hit 109 and Arthur Shrewsbury 58 as Notts got to 347. Shaw then had figures of 5-44 as Kent were all out for 171. Martin McIntyre took Shaw’s place and captured 7-77 in the match when Yorkshire were defeated by 22 runs at Trent Bridge. Shrewsbury, with a first innings 62, and Morley, with match figures of 8-90, were also to the fore.
Lancashire won by 191 runs at Old Trafford, Notts were all out for 68 and 67. Martin McIntyre’s brother William, who left Notts to join Lancashire in 1872, had first and second innings figures of 5-40 and 7-23 respectively. In the second week of July, Notts won by nine wickets at Lord’s. Skipper Richard Daft top scored with 96 as Notts scored 368, Middlesex followed on and Barnes (5-48) and Morley (4-62) bowled Middlesex for 290 in their second innings, leaving Notts 72 to win. Notts defeated Surrey by 18 runs in a low scoring match at Trent Bridge, Fred Wyld’s first innings of 48 was the highest score of the contest and Wilfred Flowers had match figures of 7-94.
The season went downhill from this point. Surrey won by three wickets at the Oval, Surrey’s Bunny Lucas had superb match - scoring 115 in the first innings and having bowling analyses of 3-16 and 5-50. Notts followed on 153 behind and scored 247 (Wyld 64). Gloucestershire won at Trent Bridge by an innings and 48 runs, despite WG Grace being out for three – he retaliated by capturing 4-48 and 6-23 in Notts’ two innings. Earlier William Moberley scored 101 not out and EM Grace scored 89 in Gloucestershire’s 287. A week and half later Gloucestershire thrashed Notts once more, this time by an innings and 45 runs in Notts’ inaugural visit to Cheltenham College. WG Grace took 17-89 (9-55, 8-34) in the match, which analysis still remains a record against Notts in First-Class cricket. Notts 111 and 79 all out. Notts narrowly avoided a fourth defeat in a row against Middlesex at Trent Bridge. Notts second innings was interrupted by rain and stumps were drawn with Notts 198-9 (Wyld 74) still ten runs behind. Middlesex had scored 400 with Alexander Webbe and Alfred Lyttleton both scoring 100. Kent won by an innings and 12 runs at Trent Bridge, Notts scoring 65 and 109, George Hearne had match figures of 10-61 for the victors. The weather also saved Notts in the final match at Trent Bridge when Yorkshire required 60 for victory with nine wickets to fall, the whole of the first day being lost to rain.
Lillywhite’s Annual summed it all up: ‘the cricket all round was lambently weak, the bowling harmless, the batting unreliable and the fielding loose and wanting in dash’. Only Richard Daft (539 runs @24.50) managed an average above 20. Barnes (305 runs @16.05) hit the only hundred and nothing for the rest of the campaign. Shrewsbury (456 runs @19.82) seemed to use up all his talents in the representative Players v Gentlemen and North v South matches, leaving himself stale for county games. Wyld (331 runs @15.76, 13 catches, 3 stumpings) had been given the job of keeping wicket and thereby his batting suffered accordingly. Morley was the mainstay of the bowling (60 wickets @15.48). Half a dozen Colts had been tried to bolster the attack, but only Barnes (28 wickets @17.10) had taken more than a handful of wickets. Daft, coming on in desperation with lobs, took 13 wickets @20.92.
The brightest spot in the gloom was the financial statement for the year, which showed a surplus, bringing the balance in hand £651.13s.3d – this would have been larger except that a new clock had been installed in the pavilion.
At the AGM it was agreed that the committee should be increased from 10 to 12, but that three members in rotation should retire annually and not stand for re-election for twelve months. Sir Henry Bromley, who had been President since the post was instituted in 1869, resigned and Earl Manvers replaced him. As a general rule, for some years after this, the President and Vice-President were changed annually.
Twenty-one cricketers had appeared for Notts in 1877. Two of these were given extensive trials and were to become an integral part of the county side. Wilfred Flowers (6 matches, 117 runs @13.00 and 11 wickets @24.63), born in Calverton, but brought up in Sutton-in-Ashfield was 20. He was to become the first professional ever to perform the Double in first-class cricket. Mordecai Sherwin was the second young cricketer to play regularly in 1877 playing in six matches (7 catches, 3 stumpings). A wicket-keeper, he weighed more than 14 stone and was to increase to over 17 stone by 1891. Both Flowers and Sherwin went on to represent England. Flowers toured Australia twice and Sherwin once.
Two other 1877 cricketers worthy of note were Arthur Cursham (165 runs @16.50), who played five matches in 1877. He later appeared a few times for Derbyshire. He was better known as a soccer player with Notts County and captained England v Scotland. Owing to financial problems he emigrated to Florida, but died there soon after arriving in 1884, aged 31.
Sam Hind came from Calverton and as an all-rounder appeared in five matches during the season; in 1877 he was a pro with Casey and Robson’s Itinerant Clown XI – in the late 1870s there were several of these “Clown” teams touring England and playing semi-serious cricket and for a while they proved quite popular.
WE Tinley, who had acted as Notts paid Secretary for about 10 years, died in February 1877 at the age of 33 and Edwin Browne was engaged. He also acted in the same capacity for Notts County FC. Browne was to write a brief history of Notts cricket in 1887 and he accompanied Daft’s team to America in 1879.