County Championship – Champions (W 6, D 5, L1)
Captain – A Shaw
Notts were champions once again in 1885. With four of their six victories by an innings and the other two by margins of ten and nine wickets respectively, this would indicate very convincing form. However, second placed Yorkshire, the only county to beat Notts - winning by an innings and 28 runs -pushed them close and in three of the draws, the result could have gone to Notts’ opponents had time permitted.
Notts put out rather a strange team against the Colts in the Easter trial of 1885, five of the first eleven still being on the journey home from Australia. The Colts batted very poorly, all twenty-two being out for 34, and eleven failing to score. Charles Shore had the unusual bowling figures of 13-20! As in 1884, Lancashire was not played and two main opponents were Yorkshire and Surrey.
Sussex were beaten at Trent Bridge by nine wickets in the opening fixture. The visitors had a first innings lead of 34, but were 80 all out in their second innings, Dick Attewell 6-32 and William Barnes 4-24. William Gunn (63) led the victory charge. In Whitsun game versus Surrey, rain prevented any play before 4 o’clock on Bank Holiday Monday and slow batting on both sides produced an inconclusive game. At the end of May, MCC defeated Notts by an innings and 59 runs at Lord’s, WG Grace very much to the fore scoring 63 and having bowling figures of 7-40 and 9-20 as Notts made 96 and 44. Nineteen year old Harry Butler Daft, the younger son of Richard, made his first-debut in this fixture and appeared a further six times during 1885. Daft, a very defensive bat was better known on the soccer field playing for England and Notts County and, briefly, Nottingham Forest.
The Committee arranged a match between Notts and England, the first time since 1856. Unfortunately several of the leading amateurs were unavailable as Surrey were playing Gloucestershire at the same time, so the game was not as interesting as it ought to have been, Notts having no difficulty in winning by an innings and 46 runs, Barnes taking 9-79 in the match. A tremendous rearguard action saved Notts at Bramall Lane, after a first innings deficit of 147, Barnes (77) and Gunn (88) added 123 for the third wicket and from then on the game drifted towards a draw, Notts 305 for eight off 212 overs in their second innings. Yorkshire however had cause to celebrate at Trent Bridge when they enforced the follow on and kept up the pressure until Notts had collapsed a second time and lost by an innings and 28 runs, Yorkshire scoring 424 with Irwin Grimshaw 114 and Frederick Lee 101 leading the way. Arthur Shrewsbury created a new record when he made 224 not out against Middlesex at Lord’s; once more he was involved in a record partnership, this time 177 for the 7th wicket with Attewell (89). Shrewsbury carried his bat through the completed innings of 415 and was at the wicket for 470 minutes. Notts won by an innings and 154 runs. Left-arm fast medium bowler Walter Wright produced figures of 2-23 and 8-74 over the two innings.
The curious statistic of the summer was Flowers’ second innings bowling against Sussex at Hove, when he returned figures of 35-29-8-3, including 18 successive maidens! Sussex were dismissed for 73, but survived 127 overs (or in modern terms 84.4 six-ball overs). Earlier they had made 93 as Wright had another fantastic match with figures of 8-53 and 4-32. Notts batting second scored 252 with Barnes reaching 104, Notts winning by an innings and 96 runs with a day to spare. Shrewsbury (137) and Will Scotton (46) added 159 versus Gloucester at Trent Bridge, Notts 291 all out; Gloucestershire 142 all out and following on 123 all out, Wilfred Flowers 11 for 89 in the match.
At the start of August great crowds gathered at The Oval – some 15,000 on Bank Holiday Monday – but the batting was rather slow from both sides, with 745 runs coming in the three days, the match was drawn. Walter Read scoring 135 in Surrey’s first innings. Notts defeated Gloucestershire by 10 wickets at Clifton College. Gloucestershire followed on, making 76 (Attewell 6-27) and 91. The Middlesex game at Trent Bridge was drawn; due to the slow scoring rate of 1.21 runs per over, 665 runs scored off 548 4-ball overs. Derbyshire were met for the first time since 1879, centuries by Flowers (173) and Shrewsbury (118), then 13-94 by Barnes gave Notts victory at Derby by an innings and 250 runs. Rain saved Derbyshire at Trent Bridge as the third day was virtually wiped out. Notts 205, Derbyshire 125 and 101-7.
Shrewsbury (761 championship runs @54.36) was not only Notts’ leading batsman, but, for the first time, headed the national averages, being the only player scoring 1,000 runs with 1,130 runs @56.50. Opening with Scotton (390 runs @22.94) they generally ensured a good start. Gunn (670 runs @41.87), apart from a failure in mid-season, continued to improve. Flowers (518 runs @33.44) also batted well, but Barnes (351 runs @21.94) and John Selby (172 runs @13.23) rarely produced the runs of which they were capable. Alfred Shaw (216 runs) “was in capital form with the bat on several occasions”, with a top score of 52 versus Middlesex at Lord’s and aided by four not outs averaged 30.86.
Wisden stated that “considering the fact the wickets in 1885 were generally in favour of the batsmen the bowling figures of Notts were marvellous. Barnes made up for his comparative failure in batting by bowling in a form far in advance of that exhibited by him in the previous year”. Barnes (47 wickets @12.06), together with Flowers (38 wickets @16.16), featured in the top ten in the national bowling table. Wright and Attewell also had an excellent season finishing with 43 wickets @14.05 and 41 wickets @16.17 respectively. Shaw (26 wickets @14.46) did not bowl as much as usual but still returned good figures. Sherwin (33 catches, 10 stumpings) kept wicket throughout the season in splendid form.
Notts retained the Championship title, their record was nothing like as impressive as in 1884, although only one match was lost, five out of the 12 county games ended as draws and six were won. Yorkshire came second with six wins and two defeats. The competition was now developing into a ‘League’, with the press placing the counties in a definitive order, rather than proclaiming a single Champion County.
The continued success of the eleven meant that the few opportunities for up-and-coming cricketers. George Bean (68 runs @11.33), of Sutton-in-Ashfield, a promising batsman, played five games in 1885, but the following year decided he stood a better chance with Sussex, and being engaged by Lord Sheffield, that county’s patron, he qualified by residence, playing for his adopted county until 1898 and also representing England in Australia in 1891-92. George Banner of Sutton-in-Ashfield, a fast right-arm bowler appeared against Gloucestershire. He died aged 26 in 1890.
During the season, the County Club had appealed for subscriptions towards the building of a new pavilion, but when the appeal fell short of expectations, a special meeting was held in August at which it was agreed to borrow £3,000 to pay for part of the cost of the new construction In May 1885, the new Trent Bridge Inn also built by the club had opened its doors for the first time and the old Inn associated with William Clarke was demolished.
Work on the new Pavilion proceeded during the winter months. The contractors were Messrs Fish & Sons and the architect HM Townshend of Peterborough. At the AGM in January, the Honorary Secretary explained that in spite of £3,600 having been spent on the new Trent Bridge Inn, the Club still had a surplus of £456.7s in the bank at the end of the year.