County Championship – Joint 12th (W 3, L 10, D 5)

Captain – J A Dixon

An expansion of the County Championship took place in 1895, Notts dropped their fixture with Somerset in order to accommodate matches with the newly-promoted Leicestershire and Derbyshire, which raised the total number played from 16 to 18, plus a single game against the MCC which they lost by 37 runs. From 1892 to 1894 the County Championship fixtures had been arranged so that every county played every other one twice; this was discarded for 1895. It made for a lopsided fixture schedule with Champions Surrey and Yorkshire playing 26 matches, whilst four counties played only 16. The season had few bright moments. Three wins against ten losses put Notts last but one in the table; equal twelfth with Leicestershire. Wisden stated that “The County which for so long stood ahead of all its rivals sunk to a very low depth”.

The Notts Committee, still undecided as to whether to employ all full time playing staff, managed to obtain a place at Lord’s for right-arm medium pacer Alick Handford, with an agreement that he would be available when released by his League club. The season opened in fine style when Notts hit 726, going on to beat Sussex by an innings and 378 runs. It remains the largest championship victory for Notts and was for eight years the highest team total. William Gunn, with 219 in 295 minutes, was the main contributor but 21 year-old Robert Bagguley hit 110 and with a little known amateur, Richard Howitt (119), added 201 for the seventh wicket - a record that stood until 1967. Howitt was born at The Grange in Farnsfield and played for that village. In 1895 he played in 11 championship matches, but only scored a further 103 runs in 17 visits to the crease and only averaged 13.05. He joined the Notts Committee in 1899 and remained a member until 1934, being a most active supporter of the County Club. Bagguley only hit one further 50 during 1895 and finished with 396 runs @17.21. Notts made Alfred Shaw pay, as the 53 year-old sent down 100.1 overs and took 4-168. He was easily the most economical of the Sussex attack, but not long afterwards he decided his legs could not stand up to any more such marathons and he retired for a second time. The second match saw Notts bowled out for 91 and 106; losing to newcomers Leicester at Grace Road by 79 runs. The next game saw Notts battle hard for a draw against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge, with Wilfred Flowers scoring 119 in the second innings.

At the start of June, Surrey won the Whitsuntide game by nine wickets. The fifth game saw Notts defeat Leicester at home by an innings and 16 runs. Notts totalled 312 as Arthur Jones (118) and William Gunn (111) added 230 for the second wicket – about the only time the new hope, Handford, bowled up to expectations, taking 5-23 in the second innings. Notts then went six games without a win. Lancashire won by an innings and 188 runs at Trent Bridge; Notts were bowled out for 35 and 122 as right-arm quick Arthur Mold had remarkable match figures of 15-85 (8-20 and 7-65) and took four wickets in four balls in the first innings (Shrewsbury, Harry Daft, John Dixon, Charles Wright).  Arthur Shrewsbury (1 and 10), having missed a year and a half, was persuaded to return to the line-up for this massacre as it was Flowers’s Benefit Match. At Bramall Lane, Yorkshire had an easy nine wicket victory, as Notts batting flopped once more being bowled for 72 in their second innings, Yorkshire’s slow left-armer Bobby Peel 10-89 in the match.

July opened with successive draws away and at home to Derbyshire. Shrewsbury returned for the second fixture and scored 143.  He then hit 111 after Notts followed-on at Mote Park, Maidstone; but Kent romped home by an innings and 65 runs. To rub salt in the wounds, the Kent hero was former Notts left-arm seamer, Walter Wright who had match figures of 13-150. Notts suffered another humiliation as Middlesex bowled them out for 109 and 40 to win by an innings and 94 runs with a day to spare at Lords. John Rawlin (10-68) and Jack Hearne (9-73) were the destroyers. Notts doubled Sussex, winning by 67 runs at Hove, which was one of the three games left-arm medium pacer Richard Hardstaff played. He took 11-118 in the match. A young Indian hit a century in this game – KS Ranjitsinhji – this being his first full year of County Cricket.

Notts failed to win any of the last six encounters. They closed out the month as Gloucestershire won by 135 runs at Trent Bridge; Charlie Townsend, the 18-year-old leg break bowler from Clifton College had remarkable figures of 8-52 and 8-70.

Rain saved Notts in the August Bank Holiday fixture at The Oval with the match ending in a draw. Middlesex won by eight wicket at Trent Bridge in two days; the spin of Cyril Wells (4-33 and 8-38) doing the damage. With Notts now completely dispirited, the misery continued as Gloucestershire, making Notts follow-on at Cheltenham College, also won in two days - Notts 65 and 99. Notts teenage nemesis Townsend once again to the fore with figures of 5-43 and 8-67. Lancashire won by 10 wickets at Old Trafford as Sutton-in-Ashfield-born slow left armer Johnny Briggs had match figures of 13-119 for the victors. The season mercifully finished with a rain affected draw versus Kent at Trent Bridge.

Fifteen players were called upon to bowl during the season but, apart from the brief appearances of Hardstaff (17 wickets @15.35), only the aging Dick Attewell took wickets – 96 @16.07; taking five wickets in an innings 10 times. In seven appearances, Handford took 13 wickets @44.30. Veteran Flowers took 31 wickets @21.96. Right-arm seamer Arthur Wilkinson, played in 14 matches, but only took 22 wickets @34.13. The Notts Castle amateur, Arthur Bennett (three games, 11 wickets @23.09), was a lively fast-medium bowler and the best amateur bowler in the county. He looked useful, but could not afford the time to play regularly. Ben Gregory of Digby Colliery was the pro with Notts Amateurs in 1895 and played in one game, he was a good medium-pace bowler, but not of county standard and moved on to League cricket. He ended his days as landlord of the Queens Head in Worksop.

The three other newcomers were Albert Longdon, Jarvis Carter of Ruddington and Walter Lowe. Longdon, another miner, who made two championship appearances, might have made a name for himself, but preferred the security of colliery deputy and worked for the Barber, Walker Co. Carter was a useful all-rounder, but moved to the West of Scotland Club and remained there for 20 years. Lowe, who was a member of the Notts Castle CC, played only in emergency when Longdon failed to turn up for the match v Gloucestershire at Trent Bridge. He gave a useful account of himself with the bat, but was not asked again and later emigrated to North America.

Shrewsbury (eight matches, 630 runs @48.46) headed the batting averages by a considerable margin, with William Gunn (834 runs @33.36) in second place and Flowers (496 runs @23.61) third. Gunn started well but fell away from the middle of June and, owing to poor health, missed the last four games. Flowers received a bad hand injury in the Whit fixture and missed several weeks. Skipper Dixon (516 runs @21.50) was nowhere at his best. Jones (720 runs @23.22) showed promise and was outstanding at slip (23 catches). Daft only missed one game, but only scored 368 runs @14.15.

To add to the batting and bowling problems, the wicket-keeper, Pike (four appearances), missed most of the summer with a broken finger and the committee recalled Charles Wright, who was not up to the required standard and his efforts behind the stumps affected his batting (264 runs @10.15). The critics were adamant that Mordecai Sherwin ought to have been employed; as he was still playing regularly for the MCC.

The change in management proved the one cheerful feature, Henry Turner, the new Secretary, enrolled quite a number of new members and the attendance figures improved. Membership, which had dropped, now stood at 1,050, but the club had debts of £5,400. In the autumn there was a renewed call for the formation of a ground staff and this time the Committee decided to investigate the feasibility.  The previous secretary, Edwin Browne, whose management of the accounts had become erratic, left the club in April 1895.

May 2020