County Championship – 3rd (W6, D11, L3)

Captain – Arthur Owen Jones


Nottinghamshire did not do things by halves in 1902 – they either lost or won by large margins playing a positive style of cricket that resulted in third place in the Championship, the county’s highest position since the league had been reformed.

The season opened with a match against the Australian tourists led by Joe Darling, whose 128 was the cornerstone of a first innings of 474 that enabled them to win by an innings and 4 runs.

The first Championship round of fixtures produced three successive draws, against Gloucestershire, Surrey and Essex.

Gloucester were hustled out for 91 by Topsy Wass and John Gunn and followed on, still well short of Notts’ 369, built on Billy Gunn’s 119; in the home side’s second innings (the match was at Bristol), Wally Hale made a career-best 135 as they reached 351-4 at close.

The draw against Surrey was notable for the debut of George Gunn, who made 14no in his only innings, and Arthur Shrewsbury passing 10,000 runs in Championship matches.  This was the first time that three Gunns – Billy, John and George – were in the Notts First Eleven (but by no means the last).

No play on day one meant that the Essex game was always destined to be a draw and with only 36 overs possible on day two (Essex finished the day 60 all out) that was confirmed.  Shrewsbury added another milestone, passing 25,500 runs in First-Class cricket when he passed 13 en route to yet another half-century.

At the end of the first day of the next match, home to Sussex, Nottinghamshire were 93-3 – in their second innings! Twenty-three wickets fell as Notts opened with just 46, Fred Tate and Albert Cordingley taking five a piece, to be matched by Wass and Hallam who shared the Sussex wickets as they made 90 all out. 

From the relative comfort of 93-3, Notts slipped to 150 in their second innings, leaving Sussex to knock off the 107 needed with the loss of two wickets.

Notts thus had by early June played five First-Class matches and not won any of them, but better was to come.

Two visits to Lord’s followed in which rain ruined the Championship game with Middlesex which finished as draw with Notts yet to complete their first innings.

MCC were soundly beaten – by an innings and 43 – in a match which, CricArchive reports, ‘was played under the proposed new lbw rule’, not that this seems to have had any great effect as only three of the thirty wickets to fall were leg before. Apparently, ‘white stumps’ were also introduced in this fixture.  The highlight for Notts was Jimmy Iremonger making exactly 100 opening the innings with George Gunn.

Rain limited play to less than two hours on the first day, just 45 minutes on the second and prevented any play on the third and final day of the game against Kent.

Bowlers dominated the match with Sussex at Hove – by the end of day one twenty-seven wickets had fallen and Sussex were struggling at 57-7. This was already an improvement on the first effort which produced just 41 runs with Topsy Wass taking 7-19 from 12 overs, though he took all his wickets in 30-ball spell. For good measure, he caught one of Albert Hallam’s three wickets.

Notts made 175 in their first innings with Fred Tate claiming the wickets of George Gunn, Tom Oates and George Anthony in four balls.  This meagre total was still enough to claim victory by an innings and 72 runs as Sussex subsided to 62 all out second time round, Wass taking 5-22 to give him the remarkable match stats of 12-41!

The next fixture was against near neighbours Leicestershire and was drawn with the most significant contributions of matching scores of 106 by Iremonger and Shrewsbury.

An away trip to the Circle Ground, Hull, resulted in a 227 run defeat to Yorkshire, the home side's bowling attack of George Hirst, Wilfred Rhodes and Schofield Haigh proving too much for the visitors.

There then followed a run of nine games undefeated, starting with a draw at home with Lancashire then an away win at Leicester – by 181 runs with Wass capturing yet another five-wicket haul.

Derbyshire were beaten by an even greater margin – nine wickets – as Notts racked up an impressive 467, the bulk of which came in a second wicket stand of 190 between Billy Gunn (120) and Jimmy Iremonger (146), at that time his best First-Class score.  Wass took another six-wickets in the home side’s second innings.

Notts and Yorkshire played out a high-scoring draw – Notts 328 and 255-2, Yorks 497 all out – after which they got back to winning ways, beating Gloucester by 268 runs, this despite 126 from Gilbert Jessop. Wass with the ball, thirteen wickets in the match, and Shrewsbury with the bat, 101 and 127no, were the stars of the match. Wass took his 300th championship wicket in Gloucester’s first innings.

Draws with Kent, Surrey and Essex followed, the highlight of the Surrey game being Topsy Wass’s return of 9-91 in first innings. He took a further five in the second innings, including his 100th of the season.

With no play on day one and four stoppages on day two – twice for rain and twice for bad light – the game at Leyton petered out to a draw.

The county returned to Trent Bridge and to winning ways with an innings and 89 run thrashing of Derbyshire. Notts made 325 – Billy Gunn 101 and Shrewsbury 108 – and Derbys managed just 152 and, following-on, 84, Wass adding yet another impressive tally, taking eleven wickets in the match.

Somewhat against form, this was followed by a heavy loss to Middlesex, who finished eight places below Notts in the table.  Nottinghamshire were undone by Bernard ‘Bosie’ Bosanquet, whose second innings 7-57 was his best to that point and helped the visitors clinch a nine-wicket win.

The season was finished off with a thumping win over Lancashire at Old Trafford – Notts making 329 and the home side 140 and, following-on, 123.

Topsy Wass rounded off an excellent season with twelve more wickets; this meant he ended with 138 wickets at 15.32 and was third in the national bowling behind Fred Tate and Wilfred Rhodes. Arthur Shrewsbury went even better, his return of 1,153 runs at 52.40, making him the leading batter of 1902.

Skipper AO Jones and Jimmy Iremonger also passed 1,000 runs for the season; Wass was well supported by Albert Hallam, 70 wickets at 19.00, and John Gunn, 68 at 23.45.

The Club Committee had decided to give half the nett proceeds of the match Notts. v. Surrey as a Complimentary Benefit to Billy Gunn, for the many years of valuable services but the weather being so unpropitious, interfered greatly with the game and receipts; they therefore decided to postpone the benefit until the match v Surrey in June 1903.


December 2023

Scorecards and stats can be seen here