County Championship – Joint Champions (W 5, L 1, D 6)
Captain – R Daft
The weather was miserable in 1879, of the 12 county championship matches six were drawn mainly due to rain. The only defeat was at the hands of Yorkshire at Bramall Lane, where the batting dissolved twice. The other five games were won: Derbyshire (twice), Kent (twice) and Gloucestershire.
The season opened with a home game versus Lancashire at the end of May. Most of the first day was lost to rain. Notts got a first innings lead of 62 with Fred Morley taking 6-38. Notts closed on 159-6 with William Oscroft scoring 50, Walter Wright, the Hucknall left-arm medium pacer who was to have a long career with Notts and Kent, made his first-class debut. Notts then won at Canterbury by an innings and 180 runs. Oscroft hit the only Notts ton of the season scoring 140 and with John Selby (72) added 193 for the second wicket. Notts 384, Kent 126 (Morley 5-40) and 78 (William Barnes 7-43). The Yorkshire home game was wrecked by rain, Yorkshire were bowled out for 46 (Alfred Shaw 5-10, Morley 4-29) and were 2-0 in their second innings.
The first game in July was against the weakest county, Derbyshire who were beaten in two days at Trent Bridge by an innings and 99 runs. Shaw and Morley bowled unchanged throughout the match as Derbyshire were bowled out for 16 (Shaw 3-9, Morley 7-7) and 44 (Shaw 5-16, Morley 5-28). The total of 16 remains the joint lowest score made by a team against Notts in First-Class cricket. The first day of the match at Lord’s was washed out and the game ended in stalemate: Middlesex 82 (Wilfred Flowers 7-16) and 141 (Morley 5-45), Notts 66 and 74-2.
Once again, the first day was lost in the Gloucestershire match at Trent Bridge and the game was drawn with Oscroft scoring 76 and WG Grace scoring 102 for the away team. Middlesex’s Alfred Lyttelton (102) saved his side after they followed on at Trent Bridge – they finished on 316-6 after making 126 in their first innings (Shaw 5-33, Morley 5-67). Earlier Notts scored 248 with Will Scotton hitting 84 not out. Another draw followed at Old Trafford, Lancashire had a first innings lead of 22, after Notts elected to bat and scored 162 with Scotton scoring 51, Notts were 174-8 in their second innings when stumps were drawn.
It was a case of déjà vu, when Shaw and Morley bowled unchanged throughout the entire game at Derby as the latter claimed 14-53 in the contest, Derbyshire 59 and 36 all out; Notts won by an innings and 15 runs. Notts had a great come-from-behind victory at Cheltenham College. Fred Morley had figures of 6-54 as the home side were 123 all out, but with WG Grace taking 6-37, Gloucestershire had a first innings lead of 58. Shaw took 5-14 as Gloucestershire made 119 second time around. However, Notts made the 178 required to win with six wickets to spare as Arthur Shrewsbury hit 87 and Barnes 53. Notts had thus won for the first time at the County of the Graces. The County season closed with an innings and 44 run defeat of Kent at Trent Bridge, Shaw (5-22 in the first innings) and Morley (8-52 in the second innings) were to the fore again as Kent made 109 and 100, Scotton top scored with 77 in Notts’ innings of 253.
The Championship title was shared by Notts and Lancashire. The commentators assessed the qualities of the two counties by saying that Notts had the best bowlers with Morley (86 wickets @9.82) and Shaw (52 wickets @11.15) demolishing most opponents. They were supported by Flowers (18 wickets @12.50) and Barnes (16 wickets @20.19). Notts were also slightly at an advantage as batsmen, but in fielding and wicket-keeping, Lancashire were in front. Oscroft headed the Notts batting averages with 571 runs @33.59. Scotton (385 runs @32.08), Selby (378 @23.62) and Barnes (325 runs @23.21) also had good records considering the weather, but Richard Daft (127 runs @14.33) was clearly coming to the end of his distinguished career. Shrewsbury (317 runs @18.65) was ill at ease on the muddy wickets. As a result of now being regular wicket-keeper, Wyld’s batting had sadly declined (113 runs @8.59; 14 catches and 6 stumpings).
Outside the county programme, Notts played MCC at Lord’s in mid-June and on a terrible wicket not one of the four innings realised 100, MCC winning by 16 runs; Alfred Shaw taking 11-82 in the match. Three other games took place involving the County. A match was arranged at Bestwood Park against I Zingari but when half their team failed to put in an appearance, a scratch MCC side was assembled; in addition Richard Daft organised matches against Wakefield in June and Keighley in July, both towns being allowed 18 men.
On 28 August, Daft embarked with a team of Notts and Yorkshire cricketers on a voyage to North America, where a programme of 12 matches had been arranged. The trip was the idea of JP Ford, a member of the Nottingham Town Council; the Notts County Cricket Club secretary, Edwin Browne, travelled with the side as manager. About 25,000 attended the match between the tourists and Philadelphia, which produced easily the highest receipts and made the visit financially successful. At the end of the tour a match Notts v Yorkshire was played at Germantown. The tourists divided into the six of each county for this match and the teams were then made up from cricketers in America. George Lane, a professional from Kimberley, appeared for Notts. Notts won this unusual contest by 10 wickets. The weather was intensely cold and snow interrupted play on the second day!