The first three matches of the season contained so many thrills and so much of all that was good and exciting in cricket that it was almost impossible to believe that this was the side of which a scribe forecasting the cricket season is a well-known daily newspaper, had said, ‘they will have to struggle hard for the few points they will probably earn’.
In the match against Warwickshire, on the last day after lunch, it looked as if the game would end in an easy win for Notts. However, the Warwickshire tail-enders played well but at 4.18pm when Hollies the last man came in it looked like Notts would not be pushed unduly hard to get the runs.
By the time Hollies was given out lbw he had not only helped Townsend to put on 20 runs but he had ‘wasted’ 27 precious minutes and Notts were left to get 76 runs in 35 minutes. The runs were made by 5.23pm and Notts won an exciting match by 8 wickets.
The Bank Holiday match with Surrey as always was a sporting game with plenty of runs scored at a very good pace. Errol Holmes, the Surrey Captain, who is always out to play cricket as it should be played, was himself doubtful as to whether he had given Notts sufficient time to justify their going for a win. However, we got off to a flying start, Keeton and Hardstaff scoring 64 and 79 respectively at such a pace that Winrow joined Giles at 4.30pm only 47 runs were needed with one hour to go. Nothing daunted those two knocked off the runs in half an hour and thereby enabled the team to catch an earlier train for Southend.
At Southend on one of the best wickets we had all the season, Keeton and Hardstaff both got centuries. Once again the last day proved thoroughly exciting, Notts declaring at 11.30 am leaving Essex, 328 runs to win. With the aid of some magnificent batting by TN Pearce, the Essex Captain, and some shocking fielding by several Notts players, Essex arrived at what appeared to be an impregnable position.
With one over to go they required three runs to win and Pearce faced the bowling from Jepson. He scored a single off the first ball, his partner risked a single off the next and then Jepson bowled Pearce with the scores equal.
Three wickets to fall and 1 run to win with 3 balls to go. Price failed to score off the next 2 and the third struck him on the leg and Umpire Ashdown raised his hand to a mighty appeal from the whole of the Notts side who were clustered round the bat. However, the train of these three finishes told and Notts lost at Peterborough to Northamptonshire by 10 wickets.
The Australian match was notable for the excellent batting of both Hardstaff and Simpson in both innings. Hardstaff scored the first century against the tourists. The Notts bowlers also did very well in dismissing the Australians for 400 on a perfect wicket.
The next match of note was the Lancashire game at Old Trafford when Notts were dismissed for 45 on a wicket that by no stretch of the imagination could one liken to Trent Bridge. From then on our batsmen failed time and again to get going and must take the blame for the loss of several matches which followed.
Throughout the season the Notts bowlers who were supposed to be the weakest part of the team continued to bowl steadily with plenty of heard and refused to let any batsmen get on top of them, Jepson in particular doing yeoman service.
However, the rest of the season was not without incident. We had the usual grim game with Yorkshire at Trent Bridge. They scored 372 by 1.10pm on the second day and Notts were then faced with a hard struggle for first innings points, which they obtained in fine fashion, thanks to a magnificent knock of 181 by Reg Simpson ably backed up by the rest of the side who showed a determination not to take risks.
Two excellent games with Hampshire showed that two teams both willing to play cricket in the proper spirit, asking for nothing and giving nothing away, were examples of the game at its best.
In spite of a win in the last game at Hove, Notts finished the season on a disappointing note if one looks at the Championship table. However, it is not always points that count, for the whole team played as a team in the field and the bowlers deserved much greater rewards than they reaped.
Jepson and Butler gave of their best as usual with Jepson being the more successful and certainly the harder worked of the two. Woodhead always bowls steadily and gave nothing away and was great help to the other bowlers. Harvey continues to show promise and is not afraid to throw the ball up. A good example of this was his bowling at Canterbury when he took 10 wickets for 168 runs against a side who were always forcing the pace. He was not given much opportunity of showing his skill as a batsmen, but on occasions was able to do what was required of him.
Of the batting Keeton, Harris and Hardstaff and Simpson bore the burnt of the day, but on occasions they were ably assisted by Stocks and Poole. Poole was a great acquisition to the side in the fielding department.
On the whole Notts fielding was good, marred only on occasions by bad catching. Stocks had rather an in and out season but appeared to be coming back into his own towards the end. He can always be relied upon to give at his best.
Winrow did not have such a good season as in 1947, but there is every reason to believe that this lapse is only temporary. Giles was handicapped by an injured leg, and his appearances with the team were limited. He batted quite well on several occasions.
The early part of the season was marked by injuries due to pulled muscles and similar complaints. The committee very soon remedied this be engaging Ken Fish from Port Vale as team masseur. He was of the greatest value to the side and was very soon at home with everybody. Ken will again be available in 1949.
In the coming season there are no Test Matches at Trent Bridge but there will be a game against New Zealand and it is highly probably that at least one or two of our players will be called away for representative games. It is on these occasions and also when members of the regular team are ill that new blood often seizes its chance.
It takes many years to make a first-class cricketer and success is not won easily, but those who are thankful for the opportunities they get and always give of their best in minor County Cricket will invariably receive the promotion they deserve.
Once again it seems the County will have to rely upon its tried hands with a thin leavening of promising youngsters among whom Martin and Clay would appear to be the most prominent of the ‘new boys’.
Let us hope that with a little more luck and better pitches next season Notts will resume their rightful position in the 1949 Championship Table.
A Captain’s Report must of necessity by incomplete for it cannot say much about one of the most important members of the team – the Captain himself.
Throughout 1948 W.A. Sime played a Captain’s part and he particularly distinguished himself in the first three matches. In the last innings against Warwickshire the Skipper opened with Walter Keeton and in 7 overs they scored 63 runs when Keeton was caught. W.A.S scored 38 not out, out of 77 for 2 wickets scored in 26 minutes.
In the Surrey match Notts were set to get 266 runs in 2 ½ hours and won with nearly 30 minutes to spare. Again the Captain opened with Walter Keeton and they put on 58 runs in double quick time before W.A.S was unfortunately run out for 27.
In the very exciting match against Essex at Southend which ended with the scores level the Captain scored 63 out of a total of 217 for 8 declared.
Other good performances were 41 out of 97 against Yorkshire at Leeds, and 51 against the same County at Nottingham.
Throughout the season W.A. Sime was ever ready to make a sporting declaration or to accept a challenge and as he finished the season with 176 not out against Sussex at Brighton it will be agreed that he well and truly ‘pulled his weight’.