County Championship – 8th (W 9, L 5, D 6)
Captain – A O Jones
One single innings overshadowed all else in 1911. Notts’ second game of the season was at Hove. Sussex gained a first innings lead of 176 and by the close of play on the second day Notts were still 24 in arrears with three wickets down. By the time Ted Alletson went in at No 9, Notts were seven wickets down and had a lead of nine. In the last fifty minutes before lunch Alletson hit 47, and two further wickets went down leaving the score 260-9. The match looked to be all over. Alletson came out to bat with William Riley after lunch. The pair added 152 for the last wicket in 40 minutes of which Alletson made 142. Alletson’s innings of 189 contained eight sixes and 23 fours. He hit Ernest Killick for 34 off a single over which, because of no balls, consisted of eight deliveries. At one point five balls were lost out of the ground on the roof of the adjacent skating rink. His main scoring stroke was the on-drive and most of his sixes went over mid on. John Arlott in his book “Alletson’s innings” quotes Robert Relf, one of the Sussex cricketers, as saying: “We were all absolutely amazed to see such hitting going on and on. It was sort of thing you sometimes see a tail-ender do for three or four balls, but this just went on and on, over after over. The only batting I have seen that I can compare it to was C B Fry on-driving when he was in form. Of course, Alletson was not so precise, but it was the same full, confident, straight swing, going right through with the stroke”. The match was drawn with Sussex needing 237 for victory finishing on 213-8.
Alletson was chosen for the Test Trial at Sheffield a fortnight later but scored only 15 and 8; he did however hit 60 in 30 minutes for Notts at Bristol, and finished with 603 championship runs @24.12 in 1911. His reputation though remains entirely on that famous innings at Hove, the only hundred he ever scored in a First-Class match.
Notts made a fine start to the season. They opened up with a 66-run victory over the MCC at Lord’s. By 20 June, with six matches played they had won four – Leicester (by 10 wickets at Trent Bridge), Gloucester (by an innings and 155 runs at Bristol), Surrey (by 54 runs in the Whitsun game at Trent Bridge) and Middlesex (by 5 wickets) – and were equal top with Yorkshire. Of these victories the most satisfying one was at Lord’s, since Middlesex had caused Notts much anguish in the preceding seasons. Trevor Branston was persuaded back into the side and hit the best innings of his career, 106 in 80 minutes. Joe Hardstaff senior scored 145, Notts 481 all out. Notts forced the follow on and even 118 from Pelham Warner could not save the home side. At Bristol, John Gunn scored 160 and George Gunn 143 as Notts, having decided to bat, made 592 all out. James Iremonger had match figures of 11-110 including 8-61 in the second innings.
Notts’ black week came in the last days of June. At Dover, needing 238 to win in the final innings with 210 minutes remaining, they were all out in 90 minutes for 84. The team then faced Yorkshire at Trent Bridge and gave two further abysmal batting displays, being beaten by an innings and 27 runs with a day to spare, though it must be noted that George Gunn and Iremonger were away playing in the second Test Trial.
July saw a return to form. Sussex were beaten by eight wickets at Trent Bridge and then two matches later another eight wicket victory, this time over the formidable Lancashire side at Old Trafford, with Hardstaff scoring 143 not out as Notts easily chased down 250. Next game, Notts had an innings victory versus Leicestershire at Aylestone Road with Hardstaff (123) and Wilf Payton (114) adding 212 for the third wicket. Notts made it four wins out of five when Gloucester came to Trent Bridge and slipped to a 288-run defeat. Payton (131 not out) and John Gunn (150 not out) added an unbroken 266 for the fourth wicket in the Notts second innings.
Notts then suffered three successive away defeats against Yorkshire (Hull), Surrey (The Oval) and Essex (Leyton) by 225, 316 and an innings and 26 runs respectively. Draws followed at home to Derbyshire and Middlesex. The final game at Blackwell versus Derbyshire was won by six wickets; Tom Wass had figures of 5-70 and 9-67 in a low scoring contest. Notts finished in eighth place in the table with nine wins and five losses.
The dry summer meant that the bowlers had to work harder for their wickets; Notts lacked someone with real speed and this was the reason why there was no serious challenge for the title. Wass took 101 championship wickets @24.79 and, with few injuries, the County were able to field an almost unchanged side for much of the year, Riley (47 wickets @23.57) was slow medium and Iremonger (83 wickets @25.07) was accurate medium. These were the first three in the Notts averages, Skipper Arthur Jones came fourth with his leg-breaks taking 27 wickets @26.22. John Gunn took 48 wickets @34.95.
Jones’s health was cause for concern and once more it showed in his batting, scoring 927 runs @27.26. Iremonger (674 runs @30.63) was no longer quite the batsman of a few years before and Notts relied more on Hardstaff (1,464 runs @48.80), John Gunn (1,306 runs @43.53), George Gunn (1,290 runs @40.31) and Payton (917 runs @29.58). Garnet Lee gained a regular place in the side for the first time and played in 17 games, scoring 329 runs @14.30 and taking 14 wickets @28.42. A 23 year-old from Calverton, he was a hard-hitting right-hand batsman and a leg-break bowler. Another youngster on the staff who played in half-a-dozen games was ‘Dodge’ Whysall (104 runs @11.55), a native of Woodborough, but resident most of his life in Mansfield. Tom Oates was the regular keeper with 37 catches and nine stumpings.
Herbert Wilson, a 19 year-old fast bowler from Eastwood, joined the staff and made his First-Class debut against Sussex at Trent Bridge in July, but was not yet ready for top-class cricket. Ben Hind, a local Nottingham amateur, played once as an all-rounder when Iremonger was absent in the Yorkshire debacle at Trent Bridge, but was not seen again. Two amateurs were also tried; one, Harold Hodges of The Priory, Mansfield Woodhouse, played versus Derbyshire at Blackwell as a batsman. He was a schoolmaster at Tonbridge, but better known in the rugby field having appeared in the Oxford University Rugby XV and earning his Blue; the other had played during his school holidays in 1910 and returned after leaving Sherborne School in 1911. Arthur Carr was to become a major figure in 1920s and 1930s cricket and prophetically, Wisden notes in 1912: ‘A good deal should be seen of him if he can spare the time for county cricket’.
One novel feature of Notts’ programme for 1911 was that their match at Leicester began on a Saturday. Matches at Trent Bridge invariably started on Mondays and Thursdays. The idea of the Saturday start was to catch on quickly and soon became the standard.
George Gunn and Iremonger were the two Notts representatives in the 1911-12 MCC team to Australia. Gunn was quite unbelievably consistent in the Test series, nine innings, scoring 381 runs @42.33, but with a highest score of 75 and no “not outs” innings to boost his averages. Iremonger had an indifferent tour and did not feature in the Tests.