County Championship – 10th W2, D9, L5

Captain John Auger Dixon

The season started deceptively well with a win over the MCC at Lord’s; Charles Dench, a medium pacer from East Stoke had a terrific debut, taking 7-28 in the MCC first innings and another two wickets as Notts got home by 43 runs. Dench’s figure turned out to be his career-best.

The encouraging start continued as Sussex were rolled over in the first Championship game, Notts winning by an innings and 74, thanks in no small measure to a captain’s knock of 268no by John Dixon.

Thereafter, things went somewhat awry with only one more win in the season, which was a revenge victory over Sussex at Hastings at the Central Recreation Ground.  That ground is, sadly, no more and in its place is a modern shopping precinct – although there is a statue of ‘The Spirit of Cricket’ in recognition of its sporting past.

That solitary win was sandwiched in a run of eight drawn county matches, several truncated by wet weather.  In the match against Kent at Gravesend, ‘Dick’ Attewell scored his only First-Class hundred, making 102 batting at seven in the second innings as Notts racked up 493 having been required to follow-on. Curiously, Attewell’s skipper, John Dixon had made precisely the same score opening the first innings.

In the next championship game it was Yorkshire that piled on the runs after following on; Notts made 260 and bowled the Tykes out for 139.  The hosts second innings, this match was at Dewsbury, produced 358-9d and Notts were hanging on at 151-8 when stumps were drawn.

The spate of draws ended with the visit of Gloucestershire to Trent Bridge and that man WG Grace made yet another century (126) as Notts lost by three wickets. An even heavier defeat came at The Oval when Surrey, with Bobby Abel making 215, cruised home by nine wickets.

Yet another draw followed against Derbyshire with Billy Gunn’s 230 the highlight. There followed three more hefty defeats – by an innings and 40 runs to Gloucestershire, 56 runs against Middlesex and an innings and 40 runs to Lancashire.

In the Gloucester game, Notts came up against two WGs – the Grand Old Man being joined by his son William Gilbert jnr; the scorecard does not reveal if they actually batted together at any point. 

Tom Oates made his debut in that game at Cheltenham and played for Notts until 1925; he was a wicket-keeper and right-hand bat who played more than 400 First-Class games, claiming 761 catches and a remarkable 232 stumpings in his career.

Despite the poor run of results, two batters – Dixon (44.78) and Billy Gunn (49.35) – averaged more than 40 in the Championship with Shrewsbury not far behind on 38.38.  Charles Dench had built on his debut success to show promise as an all-rounder, scoring 619 runs at 28.13 and taking 18 wickets.

In July 1897, the county came up against one of the era’s great fast bowlers and still probably the best cricketer his country has yet produced.  In a drawn match against the touring Gentlemen of Philadelphia, John Barton King took three wickets in each Notts innings, passing 50 wickets for the season when he had Richard Howitt caught by John Lester.

On the creation of the ground staff at Trent Bridge in 1897, Walter Marshall was given the new position of coach. He retained this post until 1922 when he was succeeded by James Iremonger. Marshall became head groundsman at Trent Bridge, retiring in 1935 when he became caretaker of the Pavilion.


November 2023

Scorecards and stats can be seen here