Britannic Assurance Championship – 2nd (W 12, L 3, D 9)
Nat West Trophy (60 overs) – Second Round
Benson and Hedges Cup (55 overs) – Semi-Finalists
John Player Special League (40 overs) – 2nd (W 10, L 5, NR 1)
Captain – C E B Rice
The prospects for Notts in 1984 always looked distinctly bright. Richard Hadlee would be available all summer and Clive Rice had finally recovered from his long standing neck injury. In addition, the County had engaged the highly rated 26-year left-handed opener, Chris Broad from Gloucestershire.
The championship regulations were changed; a minimum of 117 overs had to be bowled on each of the first two days and 110 overs on the third day; it made for some long day’s cricket. The championship programme opened with a convincing 225 run win over Surrey at Trent Bridge with Hadlee having match figures of 8-22. The second match ought to have also brought victory, but Peter Such, Notts only spinner injured his thumb and on the final day Leicester were able to bat out time. Marred by bad weather, a result in the third game was only obtained by three declarations and Yorkshire won by the narrow margin of six runs. The following fixture provided Notts with their year’s best win, in that they overcame the talented Essex team by ten wickets; the home team being made to follow on. Notts won a tight affair at Bournemouth by two wickets and followed it up with two comprehensive wins at Trent Bridge. Firstly, Glamorgan by ten wickets (Eddie Hemmings 12-123 in the match) and then Gloucestershire by an innings and 125 runs (Hadlee 11-76 in the match). By the time July came, Notts stood third in the table behind Leicester and Essex, but with games in hand. The County then recorded wins in three of the four games all at Trent Bridge – Sussex (by 142 runs), Worcestershire (by five wickets), and Lancashire (by ten wickets), Notts were now eight points behind leaders Essex with a game in hand.
Notts had a rain ruined match at New Road but then threw away the game against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge. Notts gained a first innings 222 runs and made Derbyshire follow on. Some slack fielding resulted in Derbyshire reaching 381, leaving Notts 35 overs to get 160. Derbyshire spinners Miller and Moir shared the wickets as Notts were bowled out for 131 to lose by 28 runs. Fortune then smiled on Notts as reeled off four wins out of five. Middlesex were beaten by an innings and 43 runs at Lord’s. Highlights were a career best 210 not out from Hadlee and second innings figures of 8-44 for Kevin Cooper. The following game at Folkestone was a near miss as Kent chasing 349 to win ended up 285-9. Rice (152 not out) and 19 year-old Paul Johnson, with a championship best 133, added 260 for the fourth wicket in Notts second innings. Notts made the long overnight trip from Kent to Stanley Park, Blackpool where 20 year-old slow left-armer Andy Afford made his championship debut and picked up four wickets; another seven wickets for Hadlee saw him to 100 wickets for the season. Warwickshire were defeated by seven wickets at Trent Bridge as the unstoppable Hadlee became the first man in English cricket since Fred Titmus in 1967 to obtain the 1,000 runs/100 wicket double. Northants were then blown away by an innings and 97 runs in two days at Trent Bridge, spin twins Mike Bore and Hemmings had match figures of 9-129 and 8-152 respectively.
At the start of September, Notts were a point behind leaders Essex with a game in hand. Whilst Essex rested, Notts went to Hove. Sussex still hurting from 1981 where they were two points behind champions Notts were determined not to give Notts anything and they crawled to 266-4 at end of day one; with rain also intervening, Notts were set an impossible 278 off 35 overs. Notts went top but only gained five bonus points from drawn fixture. Notts faced Somerset at Taunton in the last fixture, whereas Essex were up at Old Trafford. On the Saturday, Essex bowled Lancashire out for 229 as Essex raced to 155/1 by the close. Rain and bad light in the West Country meant 3 hours were lost as Somerset closed on 221 for 6. When play resumed on Monday, Essex cruised to an easy 10 wicket win to collect maximum 24 points. Notts bowled out Somerset for 274. Chris Broad scored 88 not out as Notts declared on 222-7, Somerset closing on 32-0.
On the final day, Notts had to win to take the Championship. Somerset skipper Ian Botham declared and Notts had 60 overs in which to make 297 on a turning pitch with a fast outfield. Broad and Robinson made a fair start but both fell at 70. Rice batted superbly for 98 off 109 balls but fell to a boundary catch; Notts needed 39 off four overs. Bore came in to play the most memorable innings of his career and 14 were needed off the last over bowled by slow left-armer Booth. Bore hit two fours and a two, then with two balls left, he was caught at long off on the boundary ropes, having made 27; victory for Somerset by three runs. In the long history of the Championship, the title had never before rested on the penultimate ball of the last match of the season.
Essex and Notts also finished first and second in the Sunday League. Essex finished eight points above Notts and looked likely winners of the competition for the final month of the season, whereas Notts came almost from nowhere and by winning five of their last six games rose to second place. Leading run scorer was Tim Robinson with 550 runs @42.30. Hadlee was the leading wicket-taker with 23 wickets @18.52. It was Notts highest placing in sixteen seasons of the 40 overs competition.
The County also performed well in the Benson & Hedges Cup. Three wins out of four matches gained them a place in the knock-out rounds. Surrey were bowled out for 89 as Notts won the Trent Bridge quarter final by 167 runs. Notts came to the grief in the Semi Final. A crowd of 6,500 came to Trent Bridge to see visitors Lancashire; put in to bat Notts made 223 for 6, but Lancashire found no difficulty in reaching this score and won by six wickets and 16 balls to spare. Notts beat Glamorgan by six wickets at Swansea in the First Round of the Nat West; Notts though fell in the next round as visitors Middlesex squeaked home by 5 runs. Emburey and Edmonds bowled very tightly, permitting only 52 runs off their 24 overs and taking a wicket apiece.
All in all the season was the best the county had achieved in post war cricket. Their performances and results were better than 1981, but frustratingly no trophy. They owed a great deal to Richard Hadlee, who proved the improbable possible by completing the Double. By this performance, allied to the great achievement he accomplished for New Zealand in Test and Limited Overs Internationals, Hadlee was now recognised as the best all-round cricketer in the world.
In championship matches for Notts he hit 1,179 runs @51.26 and took 117 wickets @14.05 being the leading bowler in England by a large margin – the next best average was over 18. In the batting averages after Hadlee came Rice (1,553 runs @48.53), Robinson (1,700 runs @44.73), Randall (1,427 runs @44.59) and Broad (1,072 runs @42.88). Bruce French was named wicket-keeper of the year with 73 dismissals including seven stumpings and scored 627 championship runs @26.12. He was rewarded with a selection for the England tour to India along with Robinson. John Birch, a fine fielder in the gully, scored 641 runs @26.70. Young Johnson appeared in six matches scoring 424 runs @53.00.
Broad, a tall left-hand batsman opened the batting with Robinson and in the early part of the summer was so successful that he was capped by England, playing in four Tests against the feared pace attack of the West Indies as well as in the inaugural home Test match versus Sri Lanka at Lord’s. In Robinson and Broad, Notts had acquired the best pair of opening batsman in the country. Randall had a good year for Notts, but an unhappy time when once again recalled to Test duty.
Hemmings had the best return of his career with 86 championship wickets @24.18, despite the fact that in the early weeks of the season – he missed the first two championship matches – he was suffering from a shoulder injury. Such (28 wickets @22.85), but for two hand injuries, would have been a permanent member of the eleven.
Saxelby (47 wickets @32.25), now sporting a beard, had a rather curious year. His two best matches were against Essex and Middlesex, the strongest sides in the country, when he bowled in quite excellent form, but on other days he could become wayward. Cooper (47 wickets @26.93) in contrast was growing more careful and especially in the Sunday League had developed a mean streak. Rice took 19 wickets @29.94. Frustratingly Mike Hendrick was confined to three matches taking eight wickets @90.30 including first innings figure of 5-17 at Bournemouth.
Notts had four first-class debutants in their seven wicket victory over Cambridge University at Trent Bridge at the end of June. Young batsman Mick Newell and all-rounder Kevin Evans were to serve the club well for many years. The other two were David Fraser-Darling, a 20 year-old well built all-rounder, and Steven Mee, a 19-year old right-arm seamer from Basford whose appearance in this fixture was his sole first-class game.
The “Trent Bridge 1984” appeal which raised £30,000 ran throughout the summer with a variety of fund-raising events, the major one being an auction of Cricketiana held in the Long Room. Financially the Club had a poor year, losing £22,798, though the Appeal Fund if counted turned this deficit into a surplus.
There was no Test at Trent Bridge, England met West Indies in a Texaco Trophy match. Rain delayed the start and match was reduced to 50 overs. A crowd of 11,218 saw West Indies bowled out for 179. England got home with three wickets and 13 balls to spare.