1957 season

County Championship – 15th (W 5, L 13, D 10)

Captain – R T Simpson (A Jepson deputised when Simpson was injured)

The season saw Notts fall back to their pre-Dooland form, although the Australian was still playing.

Notts opened the 1957 season unexpectedly depleted. Reg Simpson suffered a prolapsed disc and was confined to bed. Freddie Stocks fractured a bone in his left-hand during pre-season net practice. Australian Alan Walker opened Notts bowling in the first game v Middlesex at Lord’s, took 7-56 and the same evening went down with mumps and played no further part in the game. Middlesex won the match by 115 runs.

With four games played, two defeats and not a single point to their name, Notts lost their wicket-keeper, Geoff Millman, to mumps. Millman had appeared for his native Bedfordshire and had then made an impression whilst appearing on National Service for the RAF and Combined Services in 1956. He was a very sound, correct, batsman and a neat wicket-keeper. He joined the Trent Bridge staff for the 1957 season and was straight away preferred to Eddie Rowe behind the stumps. His end of the season tally of 58 dismissals included 22 stumpings whilst he scored 538 runs @16.30.

Despite the absence of four notable players, Notts decided to bring in the two young Hills instead of the more experienced Eric Martin and Jack Kelly, and this paid off in their sixth match against Worcester at the beginning of June. Maurice Hill made 43 and 95; Norman 50 and 27 and with good bowling by Bruce Dooland and Ken Smales (6-55 in the second innings) the match was won with six wickets to spare. Norman Hill, from Holbeck, was a stocky left-hand batsman, whilst Maurice, from Scunthorpe, was tall, elegant and a natural stroke maker; the two were not related.

Both Simpson and Stocks returned for the next game, at home to Somerset, when rain thwarted Notts. Taking their revenge after Notts’ victory of 1956, Jim Laker and Tony Lock spun Surrey to success by an innings and 119 runs in the Whitsun game – 4,000 turned up on a miserable, damp, Saturday, but over 10,000 on Bank Holiday Monday proved that the old game had still an attraction of its own. It was not until the tenth match that a second Notts win was notched. Middlesex were defeated by two wickets and Simpson’s 113 meant he had scored a century against every other country in the Championship. Notts were set 100 runs per hour and hit 233 with seven minutes to spare. Cyril Poole (65) batted in his most attacking form to win the match.

There followed a very grim 12-game spell in which nine matches were lost and not one victory came Notts way. Simpson, after appearing in several matches despite continued pain from his back trouble, had decided he could carry on no longer. He had struggled in nine matches scoring 306 runs @17.00. The Committee, feeling that the season was beyond redemption, decided on a policy of blooding as many of the youngsters on the staff as possible. Out went Ron Giles, John Clay and Walker. Millman was promoted to open the innings with John Springall, spin bowler Michael Morgan was tried, as were Tom Atkinson and Roger Vowles. Three wins were in fact recorded in August with this very makeshift side. Norman Hill (119) hit a maiden hundred against Warwickshire at Trent Bridge, who in their second innings needed 249 in 200 minutes but were bowled out for 73, helped by a brilliant piece of bowling by Dooland: 7.1-3-5-4 (9-73 in the match). Dooland and Gamini Goonesena won the game against Leicester at Trent Bridge on their own. Dooland hit 72 and 51 in two innings and took 7-150 in the contest; Goonesena took 9-135 in the match and hit 51 in the first innings, Notts winning the game by one wicket after being set 196 to win. Goonesena completed the Double; Dooland had already done this in the victory against Warwick two weeks previously. The Leicester game was his farewell appearance at Nottingham, for his contract with the Club was finished and he decided that he wished to move back from Australia in order that his children could be educated there. In the last fixture, Notts went to Bristol, when Dooland hit another 128 runs, including 70 in the final innings when Notts were set 220 in 170 minutes and completed the task with eight minutes and three wickets in hand.

Notts came fifteenth in the Championship with only five victories and 13 defeats. The County never recovered from the spate of injuries at the season’s outset. The burden of captaincy for the majority of matches fell on Jepson (66 wickets @28.07) and this had an adverse effect on his bowling; Walker (29 wickets @35.51) proved a bitter disappointment as a shock bowler and later in that year bowled perhaps better as a left-arm spinner. The leading bowlers were Dooland (129 wickets @22.22) and Goonesena who despite being restricted to 11 appearances took 49 wickets @22.53. Smales who played in 17 games had disappointing return of 36 wickets @37.47. Colin Matthews (28 wickets @31.39), back from National Service, appeared in 13 matches and was occasionally of use. Morgan (12 wickets @52.58), a tall off-spinner originally from South Wales but brought up in the West Midlands, had come on the staff the previous year and seemed a good prospect and appeared in ten matches. Atkinson from Cumberland, aged 26, had a trial in the spring of 1956 and was then taken on the Trent Bridge staff. A fast-medium bowler he took wickets in the Second Eleven, but proved expensive in his three championship matches for the First Eleven. The other newcomer was Vowles from Grimsby, another useful all-rounder who had joined the staff in 1954. Cyril Poole was the leading batsman with 1,425 runs @36.53 and the only one to average above 30. In addition to him, Dooland (1,374 runs @27.48) and Maurice Hill (1,030 runs @23.40) completed 1,000 championship runs. Clay scored 917 runs @23.51. Norman Hill, who won the Wilfred Rhodes award for finishing top of the averages in the Minor Counties Championship for Notts Seconds (481 runs @68.71), scored 659 championship runs @24.40. Springall showed promise with 609 runs @25.37 in his 13 appearances.

Freddie Stocks (544 runs @25.90) who had been on the staff since the War accepted a business appointment and retired from first-class cricket having made 11 appearances in 1957. Giles (413 runs @19.66) and Martin (242 runs @17.28) both had particularly poor seasons. Kelly after a single appearance in 1957 in the drawn match versus the West Indians left the staff.

The ground fielding improved, partly because of the introduction of younger players, but catches were still dropped at times and this caused the loss of a number of points. Opening bat and slip fielder Clay broke the club record for the most catches by a Notts in an innings when he held six catches in Derbyshire’s first innings in the drawn match at Trent Bridge.

The West Indies were the 1957 tourists and played the Third Test at Trent Bridge. Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, though still in the West Indies team, no longer confused the English batsmen as they had done in 1950. England, batting first, built up an unbeatable score – 619 for 6. Peter Richardson (126) and Peter May (104) both hit hundreds, but the great innings came from Tom Graveney, who made 258 including 30 fours. Frank Worrell replied by carrying his bat right through the innings, making 191 out of 372; West Indies followed on. This time Collie Smith made 168 and ensured a draw.  Most of the game took place in a heat wave, though a thunderstorm broke over the ground on Saturday night. The attendance on the first day was 18,697, on the second 22,280, on the third 29,528, on the fourth 18,000 and 5,000 on the last day.

The membership rose to 8,057, but gate receipts for county matches continued their downward path. A profit on the year of £2,226 was made, with £6,000 having been transferred to the Capital Expenditure Fund and £11,460 being received from the Supporters’ Association.

April 2020