Britannic Assurance Championship – 4th (W 7, L 2, D 15)
Nat West Trophy (60 overs) – Quarter-Finalists
Benson and Hedges Cup (55 overs) – Semi-Finalists
John Player Special League (40 overs) – 3rd (W 10, L 5, NR 1)
Captain – C E B Rice
In 1986, Notts had another excellent season but once again no trophies were won.
The battle for the Championship proved a thoroughly interesting contest with Notts being involved almost until the final game. The county began with a defeat, when Clive Rice’s generosity gave Hampshire 50 overs in which to make 209 and Gordon Greenidge helped himself to 118 as the visitors won by nine wickets. In the third match however Notts were the recipients of a win under similar circumstances, David Gower setting them 92 overs to make 315 and Robinson compiling 104 as Leicestershire were beaten at Trent Bridge by five wickets. Four draws followed, and then Hadlee swept over Surrey at Trent Bridge, taking 10-92 in the match, giving Notts an innings victory inside two days.
Richard Hadlee was absent from the next game, but all the Notts bowlers contributed to dismissing Middlesex twice at a reasonable cost at Trent Bridge and Rice hit 156 not out to provide victory by 126 runs. At this point Notts seemed in fine fettle, but a road accident deprived them of the services of John Birch, who was enjoying his best season to date, and the frugal Kevin Cooper. With Tim Robinson injured and Hadlee absent, Notts were overwhelmed by Leicestershire by 275 runs at Grace Road, being dismissed for 58 in their second innings. Two draws in which Notts had a great first innings lead but allowed their opponents to bat out time in their second innings prevented Notts from moving to the head of the Championship. At Worksop, Yorkshire were beaten by an innings and eight runs – Chris Broad (122), Robinson (106) and Paul Johnson (105 not out) each hit hundreds and Andy Pick had match figures of 9-109 – which pushed Notts into second place, 23 points behind Gloucestershire with a game hand. Notts then drew at Southport against Lancashire. The return with Yorkshire at Abbeydale Park, ended with the scores tied, Yorkshire took the extra points as they were 233-9 chasing 234 to win. Rain and some slow batting by Gloucester forced a draw when Notts went to Cheltenham; in fact rain was a paramount factor in the Championship games during August. After much rain and a contrivance between the captain Notts beat Lancashire by seven wickets, led by 120 not out by Johnson. Rain prevented an interesting finish on the last afternoon at Northampton and ruined the Derbyshire game at Trent Bridge. Andy Afford with match figures of 10-103 kept Notts in the Championship race by beating Kent by 132 runs at Trent Bridge.
Notts had to at least win three of their four final matches. The team went to Hove, dismissed Sussex for 182 and aided by a good hundred from Broad were able to declare at 312-4. By stumps on the second day Sussex had just avoided an innings defeat, but had lost three wickets. On the last day Notts allowed the 8th Sussex wicket to add 149 and this forced a draw. Eddie Hemmings (0-51 and 6-45) and Afford (5-80 and 4-71) kept a glimmer of hope alive by spinning Notts to a 24 run victory over Glamorgan at Cardiff, after the Notts first innings batting had unexpectedly collapsed.
Essex, the main contenders for the title, came to Trent Bridge for the penultimate match. Broad scored a stubborn 120 as Notts scored 267. Hadlee took 6-51 dismissing Essex for 139. Rice declared in the second innings, setting Essex 313 off 84 overs. Essex slumped to 97-5, but Keith Fletcher was determined and batted the best part of three hours to save the game. Essex had gained sufficient bonus points to claim the Championship. For the final game, Notts were without Hadlee and Bruce French and their first innings batting let them down. In the second innings Broad hit a hundred and made up the lost ground, but Northants, set 243 off 43 overs, closed on 186-9, Afford 8-98 in the match and Notts ended an exciting season in fourth place.
In the Benson & Hedges Cup, three victories in the group stage, took Notts into the Quarter Final where Rice’s all-round display – 5-48 and 50 – beat the all-powerful Essex combination, only fall in the Semi-Final to Middlesex at Lord’s. Notts managed 189-8 in their 55 overs, Middlesex galloped home by five wickets and with 10 balls to spare.
As in the Championship, Notts remained in the title race for the Sunday League until the end of August. Notts had won five matches and were level at the top when June came to an end. Two successive wins over Worcester and Gloucester kept the team at the top, but in the 11th match Notts were easily beaten by Yorkshire at Hull and then had the following game washed out. Two more wins – against Lancashire and Derbyshire – revived their chances of the title, but defeat at Canterbury extinguished them and victory in the final game against Northants at Trent Bridge gave Notts ten wins and third place. The quite remarkable feature of the Sunday matches was the bowling of Rice, who took 34 wickets @15.85, equalling the record in a season by any bowler and the fact that he also obtained four wickets in a match five times was another record. Broad was top scorer with 701 runs @53.92.
In the Nat West Trophy, Notts beat Devon and Kent, before falling to Surrey by 46 runs in the Quarter Final, when the batting failed at The Oval, after Hadlee had bowled splendidly taking 5-17 and then hitting 55 with the bat.
Hadlee in his benefit season continued as the dominant force. He headed both the batting (720 runs @55.38) and bowling (57 wickets @14.47) averages and in spite of the New Zealand tour played in 14 of the 24 championship matches. The batsmen generally enjoyed themselves. Robinson (1,319 runs @52.76), Rice (1,118 runs @44.72), Broad (1,476 runs @38.84) and Johnson (1,156 runs @39.86) hit 1,000 runs. Broad after a poor start recovered to gain himself a place in the England team to Australia and Robinson was unlucky not to be chosen. The most noticeable improvement in the batting came from the studious Mick Newell, whose determination won him a permanent place in the side at No.3 and he ended with 671 runs @35.31, on the other hand Derek Randall (392 runs @18.66) was completely out of sorts and eventually lost his place in the eleven. The tall strapping David Fraser-Darling was tried in five championship matches as an all-rounder and looked promising; his rival all-rounder Kevin Evans also played a few games, though more often in the Sunday League. French won his Test cap and his deputy, Chris Scott, was called into the County side. He gave promise as a batsman as well as a wicket-keeper. John Birch scored 636 runs @33.47.
Of the bowlers, Cooper (41 wickets @22.92) had a good year and would have recorded better figures had it not been for the motor accident. Pick (42 wickets @34.64) showed more control, but gave away too many no-balls and Rice (44 wickets @25.25) his best bowling season since 1981. Of the spinners, Afford (41 wickets @34.78) made considerable advance, Hemmings (71 wickets @28.36) had a better year, but Peter Such (10 wickets @38.20) was not so effective and decided to join Leicestershire at the end of the season. Kevin Saxelby took 24 wickets @31.79 in nine matches.
The Second Test against New Zealand took place at Trent Bridge in August. French appeared in a Test on his home ground for the first time. Hadlee took 6-80, enabling his team to dismiss England cheaply and the New Zealanders built up a commanding first innings lead, with Hadlee making an excellent 68. England batting failed again as the Kiwis won by eight wickets. The total attendance was 34,495.
The one major change in the appearance of the ground in 1986 was the installation of more plastic bucket seats; these replaced the original green wooden and cast-iron benches which had been in front of the Pavilion for 100 years.