County Championship – Champions (W 6, L 1, D 3)
Captain – R Daft
The success of Notts in 1880 was attributed to two factors. First was the presence of Fred Morley and William Barnes and second that batsmen still encountered shooters on the Trent Bridge wicket. Most of the other counties now had slow bowlers opening the bowling at both ends and in case of Gloucestershire their first and second change bowlers are also slow. This was an extreme case but Middlesex and Kent also had slow bowlers at first change. The wickets had also become so true that batsmen were no longer content when they had made fifty and it was a positive disgrace to be clean bowled. Only Derbyshire of the other counties had two competent fast bowlers, but since that was the sum total of Derbyshire's ability, Notts had no difficulty at carrying off the Championship.
The championship season commenced at the start of June with a draw with Surrey at Trent Bridge. With rain affecting the contest, Notts fell 14 runs short of their target; Surrey 82 and 106, Notts 104 and 71-2. Alfred Shaw took 10-67 in the match. Notts then won five games on the trot. Notts beat Lancashire by five wickets at Old Trafford, Will Scotton scored 61 in the Notts first innings and Morley took 9-101 in the match. The Yorkshire game at Trent Bridge was a low-scoring affair which finished with a day to spare. Billy Bates took 11-67 in the match for Yorkshire, but Morley picked up 13-83 and in intense excitement Notts won by two wickets.
Notts had another two-day win at Lord’s beating Middlesex by nine wickets, Middlesex were bowled out for 62 (Morley 8-36) and 95 (Shaw 5-30). Lancashire were beaten at Trent Bridge by four wickets in another two-day affair, Morley took 10-64 as Lancashire were bowled out of 72 and 46. At the end of July Notts went to the Oval. Batting first Notts totalled 266, Daft top scoring with 47. Incredibly Shaw and Morley bowled out Surrey at the Oval for 16, including six ducks. Morley’s figures reading 19.2-12-9-7, Surrey’s total remains the joint lowest score made against Notts in First-Class cricket. Following on, Surrey were bowled for 185 as Notts won by an innings and 65 runs. Notts then drew with Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge, with the first day being lost to rain.
The county suffered their only defeat in the ten championship games – losing to Yorkshire on a difficult wicket at Bramall Lane by five wickets; Yorkshire’s Billy Bates took 10-68 in the match. William Barnes hit the highest score of the summer, 143 in 5 hours 45 minutes, against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College; for once the Grace family failed (all three brothers played) and the draw was very much in Notts’ favour, Morley 10-115 in the match. The Championship programme closed with a five wicket victory over Middlesex at Trent Bridge. Barnes (71 and 26 not out) again with runs as Shaw and Morley caused havoc once more. Notts winning in two days.
The great feature of the season was the batting of Barnes (430 championship runs @33.07). Using his reach and the fact that he held the bat high up the handle, Barnes was able to attack the slow bowlers in a way that no one else seemed to do. The reward for his success was the prime position of number 4 for England in the only Test of 1880. He also became the first Notts cricketer to reach 1,000 runs in first-class matches. The rest of the batting was consistent rather than brilliant, Shrewsbury (206 runs @14.71) improved toward the latter part of the season but the others did not improve on 1879. Oscroft (162 runs @10.12) again had one of his off-seasons. The fielding was much better and Daft's (167 runs @12.85) captaincy also improved. However, he announced his retirement at the end of the season. He was aged 44 and had had two modest summers with the bat. His authority was to be missed and as Sir Henry Bromley commented: “Richard Daft has been tried in the fire and has not been found wanting. Both in the cricket field and in social life he is alike esteemed and respected, and whenever Notts plays away he invariably makes many friends through his urbanity and good conduct.” Daft had seen Notts become Champions in seven of the 12 years (if one includes 1869) of his leadership.
As for the bowling of Shaw (63 wickets @8.30) and Morley (85 wickets @10.54), it was so accurate, that one reporter stated the Nottingham public would be more surprised at seeing either bowl a wide than seeing the Trent flow backwards. Flowers (20 wickets @11.15) and Barnes (10 wickets @23.70) were scarcely required.
In early September, Notts beat the MCC by an innings and 125 runs at Trent Bridge. John Selby scored 123 as Notts were 307 all out. MCC were dismissed for 142 (Shaw 6-53) and 40 (Morley 6-14). The Australians did not decide to tour England until after the county fixture list had been drawn up and this caused many problems. The match with England - which was to become the first Test ever played in England - was arranged for the Oval, after Sussex had agreed to give up their fixture with the tourists. The Notts executive managed to arrange a match at Trent Bridge for 23, 24 and 25 September. Captain Holden, the Notts secretary, wrote to the leading Notts players statjng that Daft had agreed to the following terms; that the Australians received half the receipts and the other half, after expenses will be divided between the players and the club. Shaw replied on behalf of himself and five colleagues demanding £20 per man. The Notts Committee were forced to agree under protest and then actually paid the players who had not demanded £20, £21! The County Club in the end lost money staging the game, which Notts won by one wicket. The game itself was described by Edwin Browne as the most exciting he ever witnessed at Trent Bridge; Notts needed 131 to win in the final innings. With two needed Alfred Shaw, Notts last man, joined Shrewsbury, who was not out 66. A thunderous cheer arose as Shaw sent the ball through the slips and made the winning runs. Sherwin and Morley rushed out and seized Shrewsbury who was carried shoulder high into the pavilion. Shaw had earlier taken 12-101 with the ball.
A report at the end of the summer noted: “Gunn, after playing fine cricket for the Colts of England at Lord’s, had a regular place in the eleven. He bats in capital style and with increased practice and experience should make a valuable man’. Born in 1858, William Gunn was 21 when he made his debut for the county. A man of striking physique, broad shoulders, long arms and straight stalking legs; he stood about 6 ft 3 ins. At the wicket he gave the impression of commanding yet unhurried alertness. By the mid 1880s he had developed into one of the best batsmen of the day.
The wicket-keeping problem was still causing a headache but as the 1880 season progressed, the Committee finally took the decision they ought to have taken two or three years before and installed Mordecai Sherwin as the permanent man behind the stumps, Fred Wyld being dropped from the Eleven.
William Marriott, who had been a professional with Huyton CC near Liverpool since 1873, played once in 1880 and made a second appearance in 1881. A useful all-rounder, he was a great success with Huyton, remaining until his death in 1887. John Hogg played once, in emergency, when his brother-in-law, John Selby, had to stand down at the last moment.
Harry Cursham, brother of Arthur, played once in 1880 and then had the odd experience of playing his second Notts First-Class match 24 years later.