County Championship – 5th (W 7, L 4, D 7)
Captain – A O Jones
In the spring of 1900, John Dixon resigned as captain because of business commitments and the Committee had little difficulty in selecting a successor, their choice of Arthur Jones being a thoroughly popular one.
The effect of this change was quite dramatic and, on paper at least, unexpected since Notts fielded, with the exception of a change of wicket-keeper, the same team that had done service in 1899. To put things into perspective, the County won more matches in 1900 than in the previous three seasons combined; Jones, whose vitality in the field was infectious, converted the side from one which sought an honourable draw to an eleven trying to win each match. His aims were greatly assisted by the improvement shown by Tom Wass (100 championship wickets @18.99) and John Gunn (79 championship wickets @22.67). Wass only took a short run and generated a pace from it that caught batsmen by surprise. The pair opened the county’s bowling and thus formed a contrast – right-arm fast-medium and left-arm medium-slow – which provided Notts with their best attack since Attewell and Shacklock bowled together. Seven of the 18 matches were won and four lost and Notts had their best season for seven years. Eight of the eleven played in at least 16 games: John Carlin, Charles Dench, John Gunn, Jones and Arthur Shrewsbury were ever presents, James Iremonger and Wass played 17 games and William Gunn 16 matches.
The veterans, Shrewsbury (833 runs @32.03) and William Gunn (731 runs @30.45) with Dixon (499 runs @27.72), who still played in 12 matches, provided a sound batting line-up. Carlin (315 runs @15.00; 32 catches, 11 stumpings) was preferred to Tom Oates as wicket-keeper on the strength of his batting and though there were individually few outstanding batting performances, all the side, even Wass, averaged double figures.
Jones took the side off in tremendous form, winning the first four games, by fair margins. The season started with a two-day eight wicket victory over the MCC at Lord’s (John Gunn 11-134 in the match), where amateur John Snaith appeared in his only First-Class match of his career. He was a talented local cricketer with various local sides and briefly became well-known as a novelist, writing in particular Willow the King, with cricket at its main theme. Notts then had a 90-run victory at Bristol, John Gunn with another 11 wicket haul. Notts won by an innings and 20 runs at Grace Road, Leicester. The old captain, Dixon (37 wickets @23.89) was utilised as first change in some matches and returned remarkable figures in this match (5-56 and 2-25) with his gentle medium pace. Jones (155) dominated the Notts innings of 259 all out in a lean season with the bat scoring 699 runs @24.96. Notts then played Derbyshire at Trent Bridge, John Gunn and Wass taking 9 and 8 wickets respectively as the home side won by five wickets.
June commenced with the Whitsuntide game with Surrey, which had been given to Arthur Shrewsbury as a second Benefit match; the match given to him in 1893 was not a great financial success. Gross proceeds of the match were £714/10s. The paying attendance on the first two days was 8,543 and 7,095. Surrey gained a first innings lead of 38 (246 to 208), but Notts, against some splendid bowling by Tom Richardson (7-90), reached 298 in their second innings and Surrey needed 261 in 230 minutes. At tea they still required 122 with 100 minutes remaining and five wickets in hand. Bill Lockwood against his native county hit a brilliant 74 as Surrey won by four wickets with 30 minutes in spare. When Notts went to the Oval, there was more interest in the Bank Holiday fixture than for many years, unfortunately rain ruined the match; the weather also caused both games with Yorkshire to be drawn. Notts followed their Whitsun defeat with a six wicket victory versus Middlesex at Lord’s. The home team were made to follow-on as John Gunn picked a match haul of nine wickets. A draw at Hove was followed by six wicket home defeat to Lancashire; Johnny Briggs, another Notts-born cricketer, played a leading part for the victors with 5-60 in the second innings as Notts batted poorly throughout. A draw versus Kent at Rectory Field, Blackheath closed the month.
In the return against Kent at Trent Bridge in mid-July, Notts had a dramatic 12-run victory. Notts won the toss and batted and scored 198 and Kent replied with 150 (Wass 6-49). William Gunn made 137 as Notts declared their second innings on 310-5. Kent needed 359 and with Percy Baker scoring 130 they only needed 29 runs to win with five wickets in hand and an hour to play. Wass, previously unable to bowl through a strain, returned and took three wickets for eight runs. At the start of August an outstanding match for Dixon (126 not out; 4-41 and 5-28) saw Leicestershire defeated at Trent Bridge by an innings and 71 runs. Wass also contributed greatly to the win with match figures of 10-121.
Notts main weakness was the lack of support for Wass and John Gunn and towards the end of the campaign both became somewhat stale through being over-bowled; as a result the side was seen at its most vulnerable. The two severest defeats occurred in August, Middlesex (at Trent Bridge) and Lancashire (at Old Trafford) both obtaining wins by innings margins. In between these two defeats, a weak Derbyshire side were defeated by 165 runs at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield.
Dench (583 runs @22.42) and John Gunn (504 runs @21.91) often batted well and George Groves (404 runs @22.44) was a model of consistency although his highest score was only 56 not out. Iremonger (396 runs @17.21), who became a regular in the eleven, batted in fairly good form, but lacked confidence and experience. William Goodacre (398 runs @19.90) had one outstanding knock of 104 not out at Scarborough but was never to progress as a batsman.
Jones (18 wickets @29.61) also put himself on for a few overs in most matches. Dench took 21 championship wickets @20.52, John Atkinson, a tall well-built miner from Eastwood, joined the ground-staff and bowled promisingly once or twice, including a career best 4-22 in Chesterfield, but Notts were in need of a regular third bowler and until one was found they could hardly hope to make a serious bid for the championship. The much more settled team of 1900 meant that only two new players made their debut in Championship matches, Charles Pepper, a promising all-rounder appeared in two Championship matches and George Anthony, brother of Henry, another all-rounder who played in the home game against Leicestershire.
The county mourned the loss of William Wright in May; he had done so much behind the scenes to keep Trent Bridge up to date. His position as Honorary Secretary and Treasurer was taken by Sir William Tomasson.
In December 1900, the Committee decided to abolish the system of awarding individual players a benefit, because the weather made the receipts from benefit matches very much a gamble, and the ‘Notts Cricketers’ Benefit Fund’ was created. The Club initially invested £350 and agreed that 20 per cent of the gross home gate would be added each year. Players who had been with the Club at least 12 years and had reached the age of 40 would be eligible for a pension of £1 per week.