Championship – 15th
Gillette Cup (60 overs) – Quarter-Final
Benson and Hedges Cup (55 overs) – Bottom of Northern Group
John Player League (40 overs) – 17th
Captain – J D Bond
1974 was another bitterly disappointing season for Notts. Performances remained sub-standard and an EGM was called on 27 May after Notts lost a championship game to Hampshire by innings and 101 runs at Trent Bridge, their eighth defeat in 10 matches. The meeting held a month later enabled the 200+ members present to state their views to officials of the club, including new captain Jack Bond, but nothing tangible was achieved. The former Lancashire captain, Bond (aged 42) had been brought in but, apart from an advancement in fielding, there was no improvement in results with Bond left at the end of the season having scored 166 runs @9.22 in 14 championship appearances. Mike Smedley took over the captaincy in the later stages as Bond dropped himself from the line-up. Bond was to leave a legacy though, recommending a new overseas player for 1975, his name Clive Rice.
There were some changes in the County Championship regulations. The first innings of the match was limited to 100 overs; the total overs for both teams first innings was limited to 200 overs. Also the new ball could only be taken after 100 overs had elapsed. Notts results were similar to the previous year but some fast scoring, mainly by Garry Sobers, enabled the team to increase their batting bonus points and move above Glamorgan and Derbyshire in the table. Sobers in his last season with the club had a mixed season but won the Walter Lawrence Trophy for his 83 minute ton at Ilkeston in early August; the fastest in first-class cricket in 1974.
Notts lost five out of the first eight matches but achieved their first and only victory at the ninth attempt. Notts conceded a first innings lead of nine versus Kent, who declared their second innings setting Notts 261 in 205 minutes. With Sobers indisposed with flu this appeared a challenging target but Patsy Harris (128*) and Smedley (66) saw Notts over the line by six wickets. In early August, Notts should have beaten Somerset at Trent Bridge. After Sobers scored a ton; Bob White had match figures of 12-101. Notts needed 17 to win, but hesitation by the umpires reduced a possible three overs to chase to two and Notts fell short on 14-0, still needing three runs. Notts ended with nine defeats and 10 draws in their 20 game programme.
Three Notts batsmen scored over 1,000 championship runs. Harris scored 1,431 runs @44.71 including five hundreds, getting Notts off to sound starts and was considered unlucky not go to on the MCC tour to Australia and New Zealand the following winter as back-up keeper to Alan Knott. Harris had taken over behind the stumps from Dave Pullan in an order for Notts to play an extra batsman. Sobers scored 1,110 runs @48.26 and Mike Smedley scored 1,059 runs @35.30. Basher Hassan had a disappointing season with 770 runs @24.83. The promising Derek Randall, a real livewire in the field, scored just 639 runs @21.30. Youngster Trevor Tunnicliffe, prior to going to Loughborough College, showed some promise with 331 runs @27.58.
Notts bowling attack lacked penetration. The most successful was off-spinner Bob White with 73 wickets @24.06. Chief support for White came from the wholehearted left-arm paceman Barry Stead with 52 wickets @28.71. Medium-pacer Phil Wilkinson, 26 wickets @35.34 made one or two useful contributions but was eventually dropped. Leg-spinner Harry Latchman, arrived from Middlesex, brought variety to the attack and took 37 wickets @28.83, improving as the season progressed. Sobers took only 29 wickets @31.89 in 15 appearances.
In the Gillette Cup, Notts got a bye in the First Round. A sixth wicket partnership of 75 between Smedley and Tunnicliffe helped Notts win by four wickets with an over to spare at Edgbaston. A competition record partnership of 105 between Sobers and White in the Quarter-Final at New Road was not quite enough as Worcestershire won by 18 runs.
Notts failed to impress in the Benson and Hedges Cup, losing their first three games before beating Minor Counties (North) at Lakenham and exited the competition at the Zonal stage.
Continuing the downward trend of the previous four seasons, Notts won only three matches in the John Player League and finished the season in bottom place. They won their second game of the campaign at Edgbaston by five runs and then lost the next six encounters. Retford-born policeman John Cook took 4-19 with his off-spinners as Surrey were bowled for 84 at Trent Bridge, Notts winning by 93 runs. It was the penultimate game until Notts achieved their third win in freak circumstances as they beat Lancashire on run rate, reaching 66-1 off 10 overs, Sobers 30 not out in his last limited overs appearance at Trent Bridge. Notts lost their last game at Eastbourne their 13th Sunday defeat of the season
There was no Test at Trent Bridge in 1974; Pakistan beat England by seven wickets in a 60 over Prudential Trophy international on 31 August. David Lloyd (116) and Majid Khan (109*) were the respective top scorers for each side; 7,000 attended the match.
On 11 September, the new Squash Club was officially opened, the cost being £83,637. The financial situation was giving cause for concern – a deficit of £12,025 for the year was due to a large increase in players’ wages and another drop in membership – from 4,468 to 3,794.
A contemporary report on the season said:
A sad feature next season will be the absence of Garry Sobers. This will leave a great gap in cricket generally that nobody can adequately fill. We will not deal with his playing record as this can be easily found elsewhere. The tremendous power and grace of his stroke play, the rhythm of his bowling action and the brilliance of his fielding have all added something unique to the game. Everything he did in connection with cricket was in the best interest of the game. He always attacked, never resorted to negative tactics, and had the utmost contempt for anything that detracted from the entertainment and spriit of the game.
In addition he was always charming and modest. He was always helpful with advice for his colleagues when they asked for it. We shall never see his like again and although we did not see as much of him as we hoped when he signed for the Club, he produced many magnificent performances, including the quickest century of the season, last August at Ilkeston.
Although sharp criticism is understandable in the difficult and frustrating situation in which we find ourselves, our problems can be overcome only by hard work and dedication to the Club’s success. There is a shortage of talent available. Far less cricket is played in schools nowadays in fact it is often non-existent. This drawback together with the registration rules, make it imperative that we find and train our own players. At the same time, of course, searching for any available player of outstanding ability who can meet our needs.