The trophies proved it? we were the best

By Cricket Manager, Ken Taylor, 1987

During a discussion in April, I made it clear to the players that I felt we had the best team in the county and if we didn’t win a title, it would mean that someone wasn’t trying. 

It’s with considerable satisfaction that I can say the players proved me right because after dominating affairs last summer, there’s surely no doubt that we were the best in the country. 

The fact that we were disappointed at the finish about failing to become the first county ever to complete the treble, speaks for itself. To win one trophy was a splendid effort, to win two was magnificent and had we taken the Refuge Assurance League title as well, it would have been one of the great achievements in the history of cricket. 

As a matter of policy, I trey never to look for excuses although on this occasion I’m bound to say that had it not been for the loss of key players during the Bi-Centennial Test, I’m convinced we would have completed the hat-trick.

The involvement of four players in that match caused us to lose our togetherness at the critical period of the season and I must admit that at one stage, I was convinced that we might miss out on all fronts. 

Fortunately, we managed to overcome the problems in the Championship and NatWest Trophy but the damage was already done in the Sunday League where disappointing defeats against Gloucestershire and Derbyshire cost us the title. 

I must quickly add that ‘bad days’ were a rare occurrence for us during the course of the summer and from my point of view, it was immensely satisfying to see the players produce such high-quality cricket on a consistent basis. 

Equally satisfying, as we look to the future, was the contribution made by our young players. Mick Newell became the youngest Notts player to score a championship century while Paul Johnson, the youngest ever to score 1000 runs in a season in 1987, enjoyed another fine summer. 

They had their share of the limelight and so did Andy Pick with his devastating spell in the NatWest semi-final at Bristol and Andy Afford when he took nine wickets against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge. 

Paul Pollard underlined his promise as an opening batsman – especially when he performed impressively against Michael Holding and Devon Malcolm at Derby – and although Duncan Martindale struggled to find any confident form, his century against Warwickshire at Worksop was a match- winning effort.

We are also fortunate to have such an able young wicketkepper as Chris Scott and as always, he deputised very efficiently for Bruce French when necessary. 

It’s surely ttue to say that we would not have won the Championship had the youngsters not made significant contributions when filling in for the players on Test duty – although it would be wrong to take any credit away from the senior men. 

Tim Robinson and Chris Broad, although not quite showing their form of the previous year as a pair, still managed to produce five century opening partnerships. For much of the season, of course, one or both of them was on international duty and we used eight different combinations of opening batsmen. 

John Birch played a vital role, using his experience to guide us through difficult situations on numerous occasions, and Derek Randall was in fire form when a hand injury largely wrecked his season. 

Kevin Cooper was also plagued by injuries and bowled only 207 overs in all matches. By his standards, that’s a very modest figure and its to be hoped that both players will be at peak fitness next year because we shall need them. 

As always, Bruce French kept wicket beautifully and despite having a poor season with the bat, he certainly produced the runs when they were needed in the NatWest Final.

Eddie Hemmings was rewarded for another fine season with a recall to the England team while Kevin Saxelby can look back with satisfaction on a year in which he claimed 83 wickets in all cricket. 

Like everyone at Trent Bridge, I was delighted that Clive Rice and Richard Hadlee were able tis gin off on such a high note. It’s been said many times what an outstanding contribution they have made to Nottinghamshire cricket and they underlined that yet again as Clive topped 1,000 runs for the 13th consecutive season and Richard was just three wickets short of completing the Championship double. 

As I’ve said repeatedly, they will be quite irreplaceable as cricket s and men but that doesn’t mean, of course, that we shall be lowering our sights in 1988. 

Over the past 10 years or so, a lot of hard work has been put into creating a successful combination and it will be a tragedy if everything falls apart just because two players have left – no matter how good they are. That must not be allowed to happen. 

It may take time for Franklyn Stephenson to adjust to the rigours of county cricket. However, I expect him to make a big impact and should any other suitable player become available before the start of next season, we shall be in the market.

Those who have labelled us for so long as ‘A two-man team’ will be looking for us to fail in 1988 but even though we are entering something of a transitional stage, I see no reason they that should happen. 

We still have five internationals – and a lot of other talented players – and with Ron Allsopp and his staff continuing to produce the type of wickets which have made us the envy of many counties, we shall still take some beating. 

A lot of careful planning went into building a team capable of achieving the double and I’m convinced that it is right to stand by that policy as we look to the future. 

It would be very wrong to panic and make numerous signings just for the sake of it. We must take stock of the situation, have faith in the young players already on the staff and give them the opportunity to emulate the successes of recent years. 

Our Second XI results were hardly impressive last season although it goes without saying that they were greatly influenced by first-team calls. However, I shall be looking for further evidence during 1988 that we are continuing to produce good quality youngsters. 

Despite fielding one of our youngsters-ever Bassetlaw League teams, we enjoyed a successful season at this level and it’s to be hoped that the considerable potential shown by those young players will eventually be fulfilled. 

As always, I should like to express my thanks for all the support I have received from John Cope, Mike Bore, Ron Allsopp, Sheila Ball and my secretary Jo Smith, who continues her geriatric training. 

Thanks also to our scorers Les Tomlinson, Len Beaumont and Gordon Stringfellow to Peter Wynne-Thomas, our tea ladies, umpires doctors, specialists and last but not least to our members and supporters. 

Your backing – both home and away – was must appreciated and I just hope you will stand by the players during the coming season. From my point of view, you can rest assured that we shall do our best at all times to keep you entertained.