County Championship – 9th (W 5, L 6, D 8, Abandoned 1)
Captain – A O Jones
Arthur Shrewsbury mentioned to the Notts Committee that one of the Lancashire bowlers, who had a birth qualification for Notts, might be interested in leaving Old Trafford, if a winter job could be found for him in Nottingham. Shrewsbury in fact through his lace trade connections found such a job so Bert Hallam joined the Notts staff for 1901 season. Born in East Leake, Hallam had begun in county cricket with Leicestershire, who were at that time a non First-Class outfit, in 1889 and played a few times each year until 1893. In that season he moved to Manchester to qualify by residence for Lancashire and won a regular place in the Lancashire Eleven in 1895. In 1897 he took 100 first-class wickets @18.20 but, struck down by illness, he dropped out of county cricket in 1898, though playing a few times in 1899 and 1900. He was 31 when he joined Notts, a right-arm medium pace bowler who could exploit a damp wicket.
Provided Hallam’s health did not break down, Notts could therefore expect to improve on the fifth place they achieved in 1900. After starting with two draws at Bristol, where dropped catches cost them dear, and at home to Lancashire, hopes were riding high when Surrey were beaten in the Whitsuntide battle for the first time since 1892 – the indomitable Lockwood making Surrey’s highest score of 66 not out, did not, for once, rescue his adopted shire. Tom Wass took 9-146 in the match as Notts won by five wickets, but in June his bowling quite simply deserted him – the critics could offer no explanation and by the time the August Bank Holiday game against Surrey came round he was dropped from the eleven.
It was well therefore that Hallam (64 wickets @25.90) retained his form throughout the summer. He actually won the game at the Oval, taking 8-96 in Surrey’s second innings, though sharing the honours with the Notts opening batsmen, Arthur Jones (88) and James Iremonger (119), who added 134 in 90 minutes in the first innings, and then 144 in an unbroken stand lasting 70 minutes giving Notts victory by 10 wickets; Jones left undefeated on 99. The attendance on Monday was 23,000.
The decline of Wass (49 wickets @30.28) meant that Notts fell to ninth place in the table. Apart from the double over Surrey, there were only three other victories: Essex were defeated by nine wickets in two days at Trent Bridge (Jones 10-119 in the match; Jones took 45 championship wickets @26.13 during the season); Leicester were beaten by 157 runs at Trent Bridge (John Gunn 12-67) and Derbyshire at Welbeck. This last match was the first occasion since the Notts Club had been re-organised in 1866 that the County had played a home championship game away from Trent Bridge. Welbeck Abbey was the home of the Duke of Portland who when President of the Club had expressed a wish that his ground should be used. Wass had been recalled for the match played in mid-August and quite unexpectedly proved unplayable – 8-17 followed by 5-23. Retained for the next game, he failed to obtain a single wicket. Derbyshire were all out for 44 and 97. Iremonger had earlier scored 108 as Notts won by an innings and 159 runs. A month before, Notts had hit 661 at Derby with William Gunn hitting a career best 273, adding 245 for the fourth wicket with Shrewsbury, the match ending in a high scoring draw. Notts also drew at Hove despite amassing 642-7d with Jones scoring 249.
The batting success of the year was skipper Jones, who hit 1,718 championship runs @52.06, and Iremonger (1,077 runs @44.87). Promoted in mid season to open the innings with Jones, Shrewsbury (949 runs @35.14) dropping to the middle order, Iremonger in four successive matches in August made hundreds. Business commitments meant that less was seen of William Gunn (11 matches, 682 runs @37.88) and of John Dixon (10 matches, 450 runs @32.14), but John Gunn’s cricket improved all-round; 1,090 runs @36.33 and 82 wickets @21.93. He won selection for the 1901/02 MCC tour of Australia. John Carlin (680 runs @24.28) was the regular keeper during the season obtaining 37 dismissals, including 11 stumpings.
Opportunities were given to a number of younger players. The amateurs Vincent Cartwright (four championship matches) and Hon. Mervyn Herbert (three championship matches), son of the Earl of Caernarvon were cricketers in the final summer of their School careers. Cartwright, captain of Rugby and Herbert at Eton. Neither succeeded for Notts. Cartwright went on to lead England on the Rugby football field, whilst Herbert who scored 65 on his Notts first-class debut versus the MCC at Lord’s played later for Somerset. Of the professionals, Charles Pepper (6 matches; 145 runs @24.16) was a sound batsman and George Anthony (16 matches; 259 runs @11.77 and 22 wickets @33.59) attacked the bowling in a rather dashing manner. Isaac Harrison (6 matches) from Calverton also looked worth a longer trial. Alfred Hind played his sole first-class match for Notts at Aylestone Road, Leicester. He was a solicitor in Nottingham and a Cambridge Blue at cricket, rugby and athletics. He was later to become an England Rugby Union International.
The ground staff scheme begun only four years before was in 1901 beginning to show its worth. The most disappointing day of 1901 was 21 June. This was the second day of the Yorkshire game at Trent Bridge. The visitors were dismissed for 204 on the first day and at the close Notts were 1-1. In 54 minutes on the second morning, the side were bowled out for 13, still their lowest total in their history. Wilfred Rhodes had figures of 7.5-4-4-6 and Schofield Haigh 7-2-8-4. Notts’ only excuse was that Shrewsbury injured a hand fielding and could not bat, but Lord Hawke generously allowed Harrison the substitute to bat instead. Notts made 173 in their second innings, and lost in two days by the margin of an innings an innings and 18 runs. It did not get better, as later on in the season Yorkshire beat Notts in two days at Bramall Lane, Sheffield by an innings and 226 runs, Yorkshire piled up 528 in their only innings, George Hirst (125) and Haigh (159). Yorkshire ran away with the championship winning 20 out of their 27 games, with only one game lost.
Notts lost a further four championship games in 1901; Sussex won by 157 runs at Trent Bridge (CB Fry 55 and 170 not out; leg spinner Joe Vine 15-161 in the match); Middlesex thrashed Notts by an innings and 14 runs at Lord’s; Leicestershire won by five wickets at Aylestone Road and in the last match of the season Notts went down to a seven wicket defeat at Old Trafford. The match versus Kent scheduled for Trent Bridge in late July was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Notts had started the season at Lord’s where MCC were defeated in two days by an innings and 90 runs, Hallam on his Notts debut taking 8-60 in the match. In mid-July the South Africans defeated Notts by 94 runs at Trent Bridge.