County Championship – Champions (W 4, L 1, D 7)
Captain – A Shaw
The season was dominated by drawn matches, but since Notts only lost one game – to Lancashire by nine wickets – they retained the title. Ill-health forced William Oscroft to retire at the close of the 1882 season and Alfred Shaw was selected as the new captain. The major alteration in the composition of the side was the absence of Fred Morley. The injury he received when on the ship to Australia in the autumn of 1882 proved more serious than anticipated and he played only once; he died the following year, aged only 33. Walter Wright therefore was chosen to open the bowling with Shaw for nearly every match and more use was made of William Barnes and Dick Attewell the latter, after his impressive start in 1881, had been rather in the shadows during the previous season.
The 1883 campaign hiccupped to a start when the Colts trial was washed out and then played three weeks later. The most notable feature was the batting of George Bean, who, with 44 and 22, made the highest score in both Colts’ innings. The first county match was the Whitsuntide meeting with Surrey – Whit Monday falling very early (May 14) in 1883. Surrey were completely outplayed being rolled over for 87 and 43, Shaw taking 7-22 in their second innings, and Notts won by an innings and 58 runs with a day to spare. The solitary defeat of the summer came at the hands of Lancashire at Trent Bridge by nine wickets amid some controversy. The Notts Committee afterwards complained to the MCC about some of the umpiring decisions, but Notts fielding was really to blame – Albert Hornby whose 62 was Lancashire’s top score, was dropped four times. The crowd also barracked the Lancashire fast bowler, Jack Crossland, almost every delivery with cries of “no ball”, “don’t throw” etc. Crossland, only bowled 8.2 overs in the match, whilst George Nash, whose bowling action was also suspect, did not bowl at all, the main architect of Lancashire’s victory was Alexander Watson, whose took 11-87 in the contest. It was unfortunate that rain ruined the other match with Lancashire in the second week of August. The arguments regarding Crosland did not solely revolve around his doubtful bowling action. In 1882 it had been suggested that he was not qualified for Lancashire – Crossland was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield and according to reports only lived in Lancashire during the cricket season. During 1883 the Notts Committee drew the attention of the MCC to Crossland’s dubious position. The MCC ruled that Crossland was qualified for Lancashire, but that Notts were justified in raising the matter. When arranging the fixtures for 1884, the Notts Committee decided not to play Lancashire on the grounds that the bowling actions of both Crossland and Nash were unfair. Lord Harris, the Kent captain, had launched a campaign against the growing menace of ‘throwing’ and appealed for support from the counties, but with little response except from Notts and Middlesex.
Lancashire were not amused by Notts enmity and sent the following Christmas note to Trent Bridge:
Drawn up by the
NOTTS COUNTY CRICKET CLUB 1883-4
That in playing Lancashire, the Lancashire men shall not be allowed to use bats but only broom handles.
That Lancashire shall not be allowed any bowlers, and if so no stumps to be used; and the Notts captain to select the bowler.
That both umpires shall be strictly Notts men.
That in the case there is any fear that Notts should lose, even under these rules, the Notts men do leave the field and refuse to finish the game.
Notts replied with the following New Year card:
LANCASHIRE COUNTY CRICKET
The only rules necessary for players in the County Eleven are that they shall neither have been born in, nor reside in, Lancashire. Sutton-in-Ashfield men will have the preference.
After this, since Notts no longer played Lancashire, there was no direct contact between the two clubs. In 1885 however the MCC reversed its decision on the acceptability of Crossland's residential qualification for Lancashire and he dropped out of County Cricket. Lancashire also dropped their other suspect bowler, Nash, and matches between the two counties resumed in 1886.
Returning to the 1883 season, about 10,000 spectators turned up on the first day of the Yorkshire v Notts game at Bramall Lane, which was dogged by rain and bad light and ended tantalisingly, with Notts needing 54 to win with four wickets in hand; the draw was much in Yorkshire’s favour, since the scores read: Yorkshire 90 (Shaw 6-27) and 95 (Wright 5-49), Notts 87 and 45-6 (Edmund Peate 5-17). A week later Yorkshire came to Trent Bridge for the return and after Notts made 151, Shaw bowled brilliantly – 34.2-20-21-6 – to dismiss Yorkshire for 61, thus enforcing the follow-on. With Yorkshire all out for 114 (Wilfred Flowers 4-21) in their second innings, Notts won by nine wickets. After the match a dinner was held for Captain Holden to mark his tenure as Honorary Secretary. He was presented with a silver candelabra and candlesticks subscribed by Notts members, also a cup given by the players. Notts drew at Lord’s after making the home side follow-on: Notts 342 (Barnes 86, Flowers 95, Isaac Walker 6-62); Middlesex 170 and 121-2. The scoring rate was soporific throughout, 633 runs off 428 4-ball overs @1.45 runs per over. July closed with a two-day innings and 27 run victory at Trent Bridge. Sussex were all out for 61 in their first innings, Attewell 5-21, Arthur Shrewsbury top scoring with 98 as Notts scored 230.
Gloucestershire were beaten by an innings and 36 runs at Trent Bridge. For once WG Grace failed, being dismissed for 0 by Shaw (6-62) in the first innings and by Attewell for 4 in the second. The match was memorable for Notts’ nightwatchman, staying on to hit a century. Wright was 5 not out at the close of the first day, the score fell to 16-3, then Barnes came in and with Wright increased the total to 204, Barnes (120) was then dismissed and at the close on the second day, Wright was still undefeated on 84, with Notts 264-5. He quite remarkably went on to carry his bat through the entire innings, making 127no with the total being 371; Wright batted nearly seven hours. £16 was collected and divided between Wright and Barnes. At the Oval in the August Bank Holiday fixture, rain virtually washed out the last day with Notts almost certain to win, having hit 405 in the first innings and obtaining a lead of 169. Shrewsbury scored a chanceless 97, Selby 92 and Edwin Mills batting at ten scoring 74. Notts drew versus Middlesex at Trent Bridge as Barnes (91 and 85) and Flowers (87 and 79) had outstanding matches with the bat. When Notts went to Cheltenham, WG Grace again failed, being dismissed by Shaw for 2. The match however was a high scoring draw, Selby scoring 100 in the Notts second innings. The final county match at Hove ended in a draw .
Outside the county programme the MCC were met twice and embarrassingly beat Notts both times, though in the Trent Bridge fixture in mid September, MCC included Attewell and Scotton and Notts fielded two Colts. The fact hardly excused the abysmal batting of Notts who were dismissed for 23 and at one point lost their first six wickets for 5 runs, three of which were leg-byes! There was much ironical applause when the scoreboard reached double figures. Earlier in May, MCC had won in two days by 41 runs, Notts with a first innings of 82, were all out for 95 in the fourth innings,
With the aid of First-Class matches other than for Notts, Wilfred Flowers achieved the double (30 matches, 1,144 runs @24.86 and 113 wickets @15.04). Only WG Grace had achieved this feat previously. Set in the context that just nine batsmen reached 1,000 runs in 1883 and six bowlers attained 100 wickets, Flowers’s performance was outstanding.
The batting had improved compared with 1882, but the problem in the days before declarations were permitted was that Notts scored too many runs, thus turning wins into draws. So strong was the batting, in fact, that Scotton could not command a regular price. Barnes (618 runs @38.62) topped the averages with the other major batsmen being Flowers (553 runs @32.53), Shrewsbury (550 runs @30.56), Gunn (454 runs @28.37) and Selby (328 runs @27.33).
Shaw (54 wickets @11.63) was the leading light with the ball, and was well supported by Flowers (32 wickets @15.18), Attewell (17 wickets @18.35), Barnes (16 wickets @20.25) and Wright (34 wickets @21.56) . Mordecai Sherwin took 18 catches and eight stumpings behind the wicket.
The financial affairs of the County Club remained healthy. A further surplus of over £200 meant that the balance in the bank at the end of the year rose to £1,170.10s.11d.
No new faces had found a permanent place in the eleven, but one debutant produced rather curious figures. Joseph Pearson of Worksop was brought into the side against Surrey at the Oval, when MCC had commandeered Sherwin and Barnes. He was a good club batsman, but made only made a single in this match, but was brought on as Notts’ sixth bowler and returned the following record: 3.1-2-1-3. This amazed his friends in Worksop, as he rarely was put on to bowl in local cricket. He never again played in First-Class cricket and so on paper has the best average ever achieved by a Notts bowler! The two other debutants were Frank Shacklock, a right-arm fast bowler who was join Derbyshire for 1884 but subsequently returned to Trent Bridge, much to the disgust of the Derbyshire supporters, and Arthur Smith of Ruddington. Smith was the professional for Nottingham Commercial in 1883 and was brought into the Notts side for a couple of games as a batsman, but in 1884 he was in Rochdale and in 1886 moved to Oldham, when he qualified by residence for Lancashire and played in that county side on and off until 1894.