County Championship – 2nd (W 10, L 2, D 4)

Captain – J A Dixon

The 1892 season opened at Trent Bridge with a Benefit match for Alfred Shaw who had been manager of Lord Sheffield’s team to Australia over the winter and this team played the Rest of England. Unfortunately for Shaw, rain was the main feature of this drawn match.

The Notts programme opened with a 14-run defeat to the MCC at Lord’s, being bowled out for 90 in the fourth innings (Jack Hearne 9-41). Notts had their now traditional victory over Sussex in the first Championship game, winning by 63 runs. Sussex were 96 all out in their second innings, Wilfred Flowers 9-74 and Dick Attewell 8-82 in the match. Notts then won a low scoring game by seven wickets over Surrey with Frank Shacklock (10-113 in the match) leading the way, Surrey 97 all out in their first innings.

Lancashire were beaten by six wickets at Trent Bridge and Notts gained their fourth successive win when Middlesex were defeated by an innings and 14 runs at Lord’s; Arthur Shrewsbury hit 212 as Notts scored 466. Middlesex 195 and 257. Notts still required five Middlesex wickets to win with 30 minutes to play; wicket-keeper Mordecai Sherwin took off his pads and obtained figures of 2 for 9 off seven five-ball overs as Notts won with four minutes to spare. In this game Sandford Robinson, the son of a well-known Nottingham dignitary, led Notts in the absence of John Dixon. Robinson was a good example of the strength of Public School and University cricket in the 1880s, since he was not good enough to obtain a place in the XI at either Harrow or Cambridge, but scored 72 for Notts in this match. He died following a fall from his horse near Worksop at the early age of 30. In the fifth game, Notts beat Somerset by six wickets at Trent Bridge, Attewell 6-28 and 7-57.

There was great interest in the Notts visit to Bramall Lane in late June, as Notts stood first and Yorkshire, reviving, second. Unfortunately the game suffered from rain and the Notts team from a very partisan and hostile crowd. Rain then robbed Notts in the return between the two teams. In between these two contests, Notts won at Hove by 91 runs, Shacklock taking 6-83 in both Sussex innings. The last game in July saw Notts defeat Gloucestershire by an innings and 100 runs; the visitors 80 and 73 all out, Attewell taking 7-26 in the second innings.

The importance attached to the August Bank Holiday game reached even greater heights than the past epic struggles. For by now Surrey and Notts were level at the top of the League. A new crowd record of 30,770 paid at the gate on the Bank Holiday Monday, the total including members being 34,010. Only five runs separated the teams at the close of the first innings (Surrey 129; Notts 124). A total of 32,870 packed the ground on Tuesday. Surrey 159 all out (Shacklock 10-110 in the match) and Notts were set 165 to win; when Dixon and Shrewsbury were out with 12 only on the board the shouts were deafening. Gunn (40) and Barnes (58) however came together and their partnership was described as the finest batting seen in London in 1892. In the end Notts won by four wickets. Immediately afterwards Kent were beaten by 56 runs at Canterbury, Shrewsbury carried his bat as Notts totalled 226 in their first innings; Shacklock 10-132 in the match. Middlesex were beaten by eight wickets at Trent Bridge, Harry Daft playing two defensive, but invaluable, innings.

After being undefeated after 12 championship games, Notts came unstuck in mid-August. Notts won the toss at Cheltenham College and piled up 429 (Shrewsbury 127) but the innings occupied 168.3 (5-ball) overs and with rain taking a session out of the second day, time was running out. Notts made Gloucestershire follow-on after bowling them out for 146 (Shacklock 8-66) but they finished on 196-5 in their second innings. The little-fancied Somerset beat Notts at Taunton by an innings and 122 runs; slow left-armer Teddy Tyler with the best match figures of the championship season with 6-63 and 9-33 respectively as Notts were bowled out for 69 in their second innings. Then at Old Trafford Lancashire repeated the treatment, this time by an innings and 69 runs and Notts’ chances of the title vanished; Lancashire speedster Arthur Mold took 12-100 in the match as Notts were bowled out for 50 in their second innings. The final game against Kent was virtually washed out, but it was no consequence. With Surrey winning 13 and not losing any matches save those against Notts, and with Notts winning ten and losing two, the title was retained by Surrey, with Notts runners-up. At a ceremony each of the eleven who played in the victory against Surrey was presented a cheque for £21 and a gold medal.

Shrewsbury (920 runs @41.81) and Gunn (714 runs @32.45), with Flowers (435 runs @20.71) kept the batting in trim, while Attewell (97 wickets @12.79) and Flowers (53 wickets @15.13) with Shacklock (74 wickets @17.69) and William Barnes (26 wickets @19.34) were the entire attack; no one else took more than four Championship wickets. Sherwin was the regular keeper, taking 40 catches and two stumpings. Shrewsbury topped the national championship averages.

A new regular player in the 1892 line-up was Arthur Jones (212 runs @13.25), son of the vicar at Shelton. He was a first-year Cambridge undergraduate who failed to obtain his Blue in 1892. Jones had a crouching, rather ungainly stance, but was to be the regular opener for Notts and subsequent long-serving captain. It was as a fieldsman however that he first made his mark where at short-leg he had the knack of anticipating the batsman’s stroke to many a catch, which seemed impossible.

Of the others who appeared in 1892, William Wilkinson, ‘Billy Wilkie’, came from Kimberley and afterwards set up the first cinema in that town. He looked a useful all-rounder but achieved little in county matches. Arthur Shrewsbury’s nephew, also Arthur, was only 18 when he played his first match, having established a reputation with Notts Castle, but never developed into a first-team cricketer. John Moss played once; he became a well-known umpire and officiated in a number of Tests between 1902 and 1921. Born in Clifton he lived most of his life in Keyworth. Thomas Armstrong was a native of Keyworth, who played six times for Notts as a batsman. He was a professional with various Lancashire clubs.

Outside the normal county programme, Notts arranged a non First-Class match at Edgbaston against Warwickshire – George Woolley made his only Notts appearance in this game. His cricket was with Lenton United until he emigrated to the United States in 1897 where he was coach at Haverford College.

It should have been clear to the Notts Committee that little fresh talent was coming into the XI and that they were losing notable cricketers to other counties. As early as November 1884, a resolution proposing the setting up of a fixture list of Club & Ground matches, plus the full time engagement of four bowlers was defeated in Committee. In 1886, £100 was set aside to pay promising colts, but in 1890 another proposal to employ four bowlers on a salaried basis was defeated. Notts were completing with Surrey for the Championship in most seasons, yet if the Surrey annual statement of accounts was compared with that of Notts, it is a wonder that there was any competition at all. Notts employed one secretary at £100 per annum against Surrey paying £400 plus an assistant at £150. Surrey employed a ground staff of young cricketers at £1,000 per year and arranged 25 matches for the County XI, plus 39 Club & Ground matches; Notts had 14 County matches and a single Colts Trial. The other side of the coin was Surrey had 3,000 members against Notts with 1,000 and Charles Alcock, the go-ahead Surrey secretary had developed an income of £1,000 from his soccer connections. With a much smaller population, Notts could not hope to have Surrey’s resources but there seemed to be a tendency to rest on past glories.

The financial position of Notts was sound, though a loss was made in 1892 due to the weather keeping down receipts through the turnstiles. In broad terms, the members’ subscriptions brought in £1,000 and the gate receipts another £1,000 of which about half was taken at the Whitsun Match. The match expenses were about £70 per game and totalled some £1,300 for the season. No less than six cricket clubs used Trent Bridge as their home – Notts Amateurs, Nottingham Commercial, Forest, Forest Amateurs, Post Office and I and R Morley. In the winter Notts County FC paid £185 to stage their home games at the ground.

 

June 2020