We Proved We Can Still Be Winners

By Cricket Manager, Ken Taylor, 1989

The 1989 season provided everybody at the club with a great source of encouragement for the future as we captured the Benson and Hedges Cup in a memorable final at Lord’s and then came so close to more glory in the Refuge Assurance Sunday League Cup. 

It was always going to be a particularly difficult season to prove whether or not we had built a side capable of continuing with the success enjoyed in previous years. 

But in what was a most eventful season, we certainly showed people what we were still capable of achieving by winning a trophy at Lord’s in front of a packed crowd in beautiful weather. 

It was also very pleasing to reach the final of the Refuge Assurance Sunday League Cup, especially as we finished bottom in 1988.

We had our ups and downs in the Championship, including 25 points being deducted because of the state of the pitch, but we won six games and earned eighth place in the table, although the docking of those points meant that our final place was eleventh. The biggest disappointment was the mess we made of the NatWest Trophy game against Middlesex at Uxbridge. 

Tim Robinson enjoyed an excellent season, gaining in experience as captain, coming top of the club’s first class batting averages with 1,504 runs at an average of 44.23 and being awarded the ‘Man of the match’ in the Benson and Hedges Final. Tim also took 30 catches and quite a few of them were in the slips. 

One big improvement was in the fielding and Chris Broad, apart from playing some important innings and having a good season with the bat, also took some excellent catches at slip. 

Derek Randall did not show any diminishment in his ability and is still capable on his day of taking runs off the best attacks and he is still feared in the field. 

Paul Pollard, continued to improve and become the youngest Notts player to score 1,000 runs in a season, a position previously held buy Paul Johnson.

Johnson did not enjoy as good as season with the bat as in previous two years, although he played well in testing circumstances in the Lord’s final. 

Mick Newell had a somewhat disappointing season after a good start but I am sure he will be working hard next season to improve things. Duncan Martindale, with limited opportunities, played well at times but remains a bit of an enigma. 

Franklyn Stephenson again had a fine season with the ball, taking 92 wickets in first class cricket, but he was not as successful with the bat as in the previous year. 

Kevin Evans continued to improve and made a valuable contribution with both bat and ball on a number of occasion, particularly in the Ben’s final. 

Chris Cairns had only few opportunities with the 1st XI, but after sorting out the odd problem with his run up, acquitted himself well and showed a marked improvement with the bat. 

Eddie Hemmings, together with Kevin Cooper and Andy Afford bowled well, each of them taking over 50 wickets. Eddie worked very hard to keep trim and fit and scored some valuable runs as well. The most memorable of course his four to win the Benson and Hedges Cup. He very nearly repeated it in the Refuge Final. 

Kevin Cooper bowled with his usual immaculate control of line and length and this, coupled with outswing, either troubled the best batsmen or kept them very quiet, without quite achieving the success that he enjoyed in 1988 when taking 100 wickets. 

Andy Afford enjoyed an excellent season, including a major part in defeating Kent in the semi-final and then taking Graham Gooch’s wicket in the final at Lord’s. The culmination of those performances cam when he was selected for the England ’A’ team tour to Kenya and Zimbabwe. 

Apart from missing a few matches because of injury, Bruce French kept wicket as well as ever. Because of his quiet style, similar to Bob Taylor, I don’t think his value is always appreciated. 

Bruce also averaged 24.41 with the bat, including some important innings. When he was called upon, Chris Scott kept wicket in his usual efficient manner and it must be frustrating for him not to have regular games at first team level. 

Kevin Saxelby played in around half of the Championship games with mixed fortunes, but he made an outstanding contribution to our performance in the Refuge Assurance Sunday League. In fact, he created a competition record by taking five wickets in four successive matches. 

Andy Pick, having worked hard to recover from a back injury which kept him out of the most the previous season, started well enough, but then suffered a setback with an injury to his side. 

However, he worked hard and bowled exceptionally well at Old Trafford to get us into the Refuge Assurance Cup Final. An Andy Pick in form and with his confidence restored will make a big difference to our attack. 

Opportunities  arose for a number of other people to play in the 1st XI during the season. Gregory Mike was one such case and he performed well in the winning games against Kent in the Sunday League and the Benson’s semi-final. 

Michael Field-Buss bowled well for the 2nd XI and took his chance well when playing in the senior side. In fact, after bowling 48 overs for the 1st XI he finished top of the averages. 

Russell Evans had the misfortune of suffering a serious back injury which required major surgery and unable to play at all. However, the operation appears to have been successful and Russell in back in the nets. We all wish him well. 

Much promise was shown by Dean Laing, a South African with a Scottish father over here on trial. He batted very well to achieve an average of 78.50 in the 2nd XI Championship and played some outstanding knocks. 

Unfortunately, the registration rules are being tightened quite considerably and in order to qualify to play as an Englishman, he would have to live here for four years and not play any senior cricket, either here or in South Africa. A big problem for the lad. 

One player who has left the club during the Winter is fast bowler David Millns, who made it clear that he was unhappy with his position at Trent Bridge before leaving to play in New Zealand during the close season. 

Although he had bowled with some promise for both, 1st and 2nd XI’s results were not so encouraging and after discussions, I agreed to his request to seek employment with another club. 

John Birch took over as captain of the 2nd XI and Colts team in addition to having a benefit, so he had a busy time. The 2nd XI finished seventh in the Second Eleventh Championship, winning six games and drawing 11, and they missed out on a semi-final place in the Bain Clarkson tournament by a hair’s breadth. 

The Colts finished fifth in the Bassetlaw League, winning eight games under John’s guidance – a creditable performance, considering the young age of the team. 

Mark Saxelby showed very promising form and if he can continue to develop, he should be an asset for the future as a left-handed batsman with an attractive style and a change bowler. 

The season proved to be an enjoyable one, the weather making a fair contribution of course. I think the bowling proved more consistent than the batting and our catching improved. 

In the main, we played positive cricket. The batting run rate was the second highest in the country and I remember after our excellent win at Eastbourne I had a very complimentary letter from a Sussex member about our approach to the game. 

John Cope now has the full time assistance of Mike Bore and we are extending our interests with schools and other young people. 

We hope to encourage and help those people in the county working with youngsters and to provide the player with as much cricket as possible. 

My secretary, Jo Smith, continues to work with the old and young alike, shepherding me through another year and increasing the Trent Bridge junior membership to 1,250. A number of activities have been organised during the past year and Jo has been ably helped by David Terrill. 

Ron Allsopp, in spite of the odd hiccup, Len Beaumont, Gordon Stringfellow and Sheila Ball, who had a heavy season pulling and pushing things back into shape, have all played their parts admirably during an enjoyable season. 

And finally I would like to thank all those who gave us their support, particularly those who travelled away to give us encouragement. We will be doing our best to make your travels enjoyable in the 1990 season.