Championship – 8th
Gillette Cup (60 overs) – Semi-Final
John Player League (40 overs) – 13th
Captain – G S Sobers (J B Bolus when Sobers absent with West Indies)
1969 saw the introduction of the John Player League and the reduction in the County Championship matches from 28 to 24 – the counties were trying to cash in on ideas until then only exploited by the International Cavaliers, who had played Sunday matches in front of large audiences since 1965. Notts strengthened their playing staff with Mike Harris, the Middlesex opening batsman, replacing Norman Hill. Notts major problem was that they were deprived of their captain Garry Sobers for sixteen of the twenty-four Championship games because of the West Indies tour of England. In the event, Brian Bolus proved a good deputy captain and under his charge the county tried to provide interesting positive cricket. Bolus began the year by introducing a rigorous training programme for the players and thereafter maintaining a high standard of discipline – his total dedication was to be admired.
Under Bolus the team won three matches – Middlesex at Lord’s (an innings and 67 runs) and two home games with Northants (159 runs) and Warwickshire (148 runs). Rain deprived Notts of victory over Derbyshire and a vital dropped catch let Essex survive. When Sobers returned Notts were too low in the table to challenge for the title and won a further three games to finish eighth in the table, a drop of four places compared to 1968. In successive games in early August, Yorkshire were beaten by 137 runs at Bradford and at Wellingborough School, Notts defeated Northants by 45 runs. In the last game Hampshire lost by 45 runs at Basingstoke, as the home side were bowled out in the last innings for 101, Dave Halfyard 6-14. Notts had won six, lost two and drawn 16 of their 24 matches. Sobers was excellent in his eight matches scoring 591 runs @53.72 and taking 32 wickets @21.75.
Bolus hit four centuries and Sobers two during the campaign, but the rest of the squad could only manage another five tons between them. Bolus had an excellent season with 1,299 championship runs @41.90 and he and Harris, with 1,050 runs @32.81, were the only two players make that mark. Harris, signed on a special registration, proved a valuable acquisition. In addition to his sound batting, he was safe slip fieldsman and at times his leg-spin bowling proved invaluable in breaking a troublesome partnership.
Notts fielding showed improvement, the fleet-footed Basharat Hassan saved many runs in the covers and Mike Smedley held many smart catches at second slip. Both players though had mediocre seasons with the bat, Hassan scoring 666 runs @22.96 and Smedley hitting 728 runs @29.12.
Deryck Murray (824 runs @30.51) claimed 65 dismissals behind the stumps, but his batting lacked consistency, his best effort being 101 against Middlesex at Lord’s.
The Notts attack was essentially seam and the lack of variety often made progress through the opposition batting a slow business. The beneficiary, Carlton Forbes, was worried from time-to-time by illness and injury and his contribution was much less than usual - 40 wickets @24.57 in 18 matches. Barry Stead, fast left-arm, enjoyed the greatest success with 71 wickets @23.80; with a regular place in the team for the first time, he was awarded his county cap. The most consistent support came from the veteran Halfyard (57 wickets @23.85), but he operated under the handicap of a back strain for a time. Mike Taylor, who took 94 championship wickets in 1968, found victims much more difficult to get and his haul dwindled to a more modest 50 @26.88, although he soldiered on with a troublesome ankle injury. White’s usefulness with his off-spin was impaired by a back strain and he had an indifferent season with 572 runs @24.86 and 38 wickets @26.76. With this catalogue of complaints, Notts did as well as they could with the ball.
Notts played Middlesex in their first match in the Gillette Cup and won through due to a brilliant 78 (2x6, 7x4) by Hassan, Notts had received a bye in the first round. In the next round the left-arm bowling of Stead (12-4-17-2) helped restrict to Essex to 180-9 after 60 overs. Notts also struggled for runs and it needed Graham Frost to hobble to the crease and score the final nine off the last over to win the match. This put Notts into their first ever semi-final against Yorkshire at Scarborough. The gates were closed with 15,242 in the ground. Sobers put Yorkshire in and bowled them out for 191 in 59.4 overs. The Notts batting failed being bowled out for 123; Harris remained for two hours for 31, no one else made any worthwhile contribution.
Notts made little headway in the new Sunday League. With only five wins they were 13th in the table. They did however manage to record the first tie in the competition on a rainy day at Trent Bridge. Kent were the opponents and batted first. Notts needed 25 off the last two overs. Harris who had been plodding along, woke suddenly and 19 came off the penultimate over Brown. The last over was not so productive and three runs were required off the final delivery – Forbes could only manage two. Leading run scorer was Bolus with 462 runs @33.00 and leading wicket-taker was Halfyard with 22 wickets @19.00
Apart from Harris, Notts had two other debutants in 1969 - Peter Plummer and Robert Kelsall. Plummer, a 22 year-old slow left-armer, played in three first-team games, two in the Championship and one Sunday League fixture where he took 5-44 in a losing cause at Bradford. Kelsall a 23 year-old off-spinner from Stockport played in the 3-day friendly against Barbados at Trent Bridge; which turned out to be his only first-class game for Notts.
Ian Moore (460 runs @23.00) and Deryck Murray left Trent Bridge at the end of the season.
The development sub-committee saw its plans beginning to take shape in 1969. The Ladies Pavilion being converted into three sections – the Century Restaurant, a Club Room for Lady Members and a Club Room for the Supporters’ Association.
The financial situation remained little changed. A deficit of £7,540 was recorded, with gate receipts exceedingly poor, only one county having fewer spectators through the turnstiles. Excluding members, 8,853 paid to see Championship cricket and 9,222 paid at the gate for the eight Sunday League games. The Club received a most generous bequest of £22,053 from the estate of Cyril Lowater, who had been on the Committee of both the County Club and the Supporters’ Association.
The quality of pitches at Trent Bridge was excellent with Head Groundsman Frank Dalling being chosen as Groundsman of the Year for 1969.