County Championship – 7th (W 4, L 8, D 4)

Captain – J A Dixon

1894 provided Notts with very little about which to enthuse, finishing seventh out of nine in the Championship. A combination of ill-health and business meant that Arthur Shrewsbury was unable to play and this had an adverse effect on the team. Notts were reduced almost to a two-man band – William Gunn as batsman and Dick Attewell as bowler; Frank Shacklock had left. In Championship matches Gunn scored 851 runs @37.00; no else managed 500 runs and next best averages were Charles Wright (459 runs @18.36) and Wilfred Flowers (491 runs @18.18). Skipper John Dixon had an awful championship season with the bat, 388 runs @15.52. It was little wonder that Notts won only four matches and lost eight. Mordecai Sherwin had retired as wicket-keeper at the end of 1893 and the Committee fell back on Charles Wright for the first three matches before introducing Arthur Pike from Keyworth. Pike (31 catches, 4 stumpings) gave some brilliant display behind the stumps but was a poor bat, scoring 167 runs @7.59. Attewell (79 wickets @16.81) bowled more than twice as many overs as the next most used bowler, Flowers (54 wickets @14.27).

Richard Hardstaff, with a Lancashire League engagement with Rawtenstall, was only available for seven games – he had an awkward looking action on delivery but his left-arm medium pace bowling was effective, taking 31 championship wickets @14.93. Alick Handford (25 wickets @17.44), a pro with Sefton Park who came from Wilford, was tried, winning the match against Gloucestershire, by taking 5-25 in the second innings and dismissing the great WG Grace cheaply. Neither Hardstaff nor Handford could play in either match with Surrey. Notts suffered the mortification of two defeats by an innings against their old rivals – by an innings and nine runs at Whitsuntide (Surrey fast bowler, Tom Richardson 13-99 in the match) and by an innings and 15 runs during the August Bank Holiday. Just as depressing was the 125-run defeat versus Sussex at Hove towards the end of July; the Southern County won for the first time in 20 years – and the architect of the historic victory? None other than the veteran former Notts captain Alfred Shaw! Shaw had been in the employ of the patron of Sussex cricket, Lord Sheffield, for some years. His instructions were to coach youngsters for Sussex, but he found few worthwhile candidates and in despair, the Sussex Committee included the Coach himself, now in his 52nd year and who had been retired seven years. His first innings analysis against Notts was 41-25-34-5 and his second 27-19-16-2. He ended the summer at the head of the Sussex bowling table and in the drawn match at Trent Bridge, Sussex included no less than four ex-Notts men – Shaw, Guttridge, Bean and Richard Lowe.

The tone of the season was set in first match, the first First-Class game ever undertaken by Warwickshire – Notts lost by six wickets, Warwickshire did not enter the Championship until 1895.  John Sharpe, the Ruddington bowler who had done so much for Surrey, turned out for Notts in this match and four others during the year, but scarcely strengthened the bowling. Notts also lost in other non-championship First-Class games to Leicestershire at Grace Road (by 106 runs) and the MCC at Lord’s (by 8 wickets), and had drawn matches in the return against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and the Gentlemen of England at Trent Bridge; the later was the Benefit match for William Barnes.

Notts did not win a match until 26 June, when they beat Lancashire in two days at Trent Bridge by an innings and 51 runs. Harry Daft scored 85, and then Lancashire were bowled out for 103 and 90, Flowers taking 6-21 in the second innings. At the end of May, Notts had lost a close-fought match at Trent Bridge by three wickets to Yorkshire (Hardstaff 7-44 and 3-50). This was followed by a 43-run defeat to Gloucester at the Spa Ground at Gloucester, a soggy draw versus Sussex at Trent Bridge (Shaw at it again with 7-34) and then a five wicket defeat to Middlesex at Lord’s (Jack Hearne 12-53 for the victors).

At the start of July, Yorkshire thrashed Notts by 201 runs at Headingley, Stanley Jackson scoring 145 for the Tykes. The next two games were victories: Notts won a low scoring game by 21 runs versus Somerset at Trent Bridge, William Gunn 51 and 121 not out. Then, at Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent were defeated by 13 runs in two day - Notts 47 and 128 (Gunn 49), Kent 110 (Attewell 4-41) and 52 (Flowers 7-24; Attewell 3-28). Shaw’s match at Hove followed. July closed with an innings and 44-run defeat of Gloucester at Trent Bridge; Flowers followed up his 5-43 in the Gloucester first innings with 5-43. Notts final defeat of the season was by eight wickets to Lancashire at Old Trafford in the third week of August.

Other players given trials were: Meshach Chambers of Awsworth, an all-rounder who later played for Northumberland; Thomas Flowers, a cousin of Wilfred and slow medium bowler he was a professional of Church CC and came from Daybrook; the brothers Sam and Tom Lowe were tried as fast bowlers, but Tom was 35 and Sam 27, so rather elderly for Colts; James Turner of Sutton-in-Ashfield was the Southport professional and a medium-pace bowler and played in two games; and finally Arthur Wilkinson, an attacking batsman and accurate bowler who did well in his debut at Trent Bridge v Somerset. The single new amateur of 1894 was Percy Oscroft, who was a schoolmaster in Newcastle, and, coming back to Nottingham in the holidays, played in August.   

During the winter of 1894/5 there were two important changes at Trent Bridge. The Committee had for some time been unhappy with the work carried out by the paid Secretary, Edwin Browne, and persuaded him to resign in February 1895. Henry Turner, the secretary of Notts Castle CC, took over the post. A month later the death occurred of the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, WHC Oates. William Wright, the Trustee and also father of Charles, agreed to fill this vacancy.     

June 2020