Britannic Assurance Championship – 4th (W 7, L 5, D 10)
Nat West Trophy (60 overs) – Quarter-Finalists
Benson and Hedges Cup (55 overs) – Failed to qualify for knock-out phase
Refuge Assurance League (40 overs) – 1st (W 13, L 3)
Captain – R T Robinson
In the words of Wisden “Notts swept aside the seeds of doubt in 1991 and demonstrated a fierce determination to remain at the forefront of English cricket. Such a vivid upturn in fortunes dispersed the memory of the gloom that descended on Trent Bridge in late 1990, when seven of the last 11 Championship games ended in defeat”. With new team manager John Birch, who had replaced the retired and much respected Ken Taylor, Notts won the 40-over competition for the first time and finished fourth in the Championship.
The outstanding feature of the season was the success in the Sunday League. A major decision which had some bearing on this was the promotion of Derek Randall to open the innings with Chris Broad, though Randall remained a middle-order batsman in the Championship matches. Randall never failed to reach double figures in the 16 Sunday League fixtures. Broad certainly flourished with Randall as his partner and they added 106 in a nine wicket victory in the opening match at Old Trafford – Broad 100 not out – the 190 runs required to beat Lancashire were obtained with 13 balls to spare. Warwickshire were then beaten by 82 runs at Trent Bridge, Eddie Hemmings 4-26. The third match at Sophia Gardens saw Broad score 108 and Notts achieved victory over Glamorgan by four wickets. Back at Trent Bridge, Essex seemed likely to obtain the 195 needed for victory, but Franklyn Stephenson took the final three wickets in six balls to bowl them out for 184. Randall made an unbeaten 83 as Notts strolled to a five wicket win with 21 balls to spare at Grace Road. Somerset’s batsman fell four short as Notts totalled 180-7 at Trent Bridge, Rain affected the match at The Wagon Works, Gloucester, Notts winning by eight wickets after being set a rain reduced target.
The seven successive wins saw Notts lead the table by six points, but they lost the eighth game at home to Middlesex by seven wickets as John Emburey took 4-38 for the victors. Randall and Broad added 154 runs for the opening wicket at The Oval as Notts won another rain affected contest by eight wickets. Notts won off the very last ball by three wickets against Hampshire at Trent Bridge with Randall scoring 83. Notts then fell to narrow five run defeat at Wellingborough School; despite Stephenson taking 5-31 Northants successfully defended 202.
In the twelfth match Sussex were defeated by six wickets at Hove with Broad scoring 65. Notts fell to their third defeat when Worcestershire won by eight wickets at Trent Bridge, Graeme Hick scoring 109 for the victors. Kent came to Trent Bridge and at one point Notts seemed in danger of losing – needing 66 off the last 10 overs, but excellent batting by Paul Pollard (56 not out) saw Notts home with an over spare, earlier Broad had made 76. The penultimate match at Scarborough, watched by a 10,000 crowd saw another good innings from Pollard (53) and with support from young left hander Mark Saxelby (55), Notts got home with two wickets and a ball to spare. Notts now led the table by two points from Lancashire.
The final game was against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge and a crowd of 7,500 turned out to watch a commanding partnership by, appropriately, Broad and Randall. They put on 134 for the first wicket, with Notts needing only 177. The title was secured by nine wickets and 13 balls to spare. Notts had fielded a very settled team in the competition fielding only 15 players with seven ever-presents: Kevin Evans, Bruce French, Paul Johnson, Randall, skipper Tim Robinson, Saxelby and Stephenson. Randall was leading run scorer with 673 runs @44.86, but Broad (15 appearances) was first in the averages with 635 runs @52.91. Stephenson was top wicket-taker with 30 wickets @16.20.
As they finished in the top four in the standings they entered the Refuge Assurance Cup, but lost to Worcestershire at Trent Bridge by 14 runs, Hick taking 5-35 with his occasional off spin. There was little success in the Benson & Hedges Cup. Notts won two matches, but failed to qualify for the knock-out section. In the Nat West, Lincolnshire were the first round opponents at Trent Bridge, Notts scored 306-4 off 60 overs with Robinson scoring 124 runs. Lincolnshire were on 172-8 off 50.4 overs when a thunderstorm of biblical proportions arrived and they conceded the game rather than having to return the following day to complete the game. In the next round at Bristol, Hemmings scored the winning run off the final ball in the 60th over. Randall scored 95 in the quarter final at Southampton as Notts scored 252-9. Hampshire though got home by seven wickets with an over spare, Chris Smith with an undefeated 105.
The County Championship opened with a seven wicket victory over Leicester at Trent Bridge. Six successive draws followed. In the eighth match, Notts suffered a one wicket defeat at Worcester as the home side chased 311 after Notts declared two wickets down to set them a target. Next up was a rain soaked game at Trent Bridge versus Warwickshire. July came and Notts won four matches out of five to push them into third place, 47 points behind Warwickshire but with a match in hand. This run of victories began against Glamorgan at Cardiff. Notts were set 274 off 73 overs and a chanceless 112 by Randall and 77 from Johnson, who added an unbroken 175, saw Notts home by eight wickets. Lancashire were beaten by an innings and 34 runs at Trent Bridge. Pollard scored 145 and Randall 120 as the county scored 426, Hemmings had match figures of 9-96. Northants were defeated in two days by an innings and one run at Wellingborough School with Stephenson and Andy Pick having match figures of 10-88 and 8-91 respectively, Northants 68 all out in their second innings. At Lord’s, Middlesex set Notts 282 off 66 overs, Johnson took the opportunity to hit 105 off 108 balls and the target was reached with four wickets in hand.
Full bonus points in the drawn game with Sussex at the Saffrons put Notts level with Surrey in second place. Essex came to Trent Bridge in the second week of August, Johnson (124) played his best innings of the summer and with Evans taking 5-66, Notts gained a first innings of 75 runs. Notts were bowled out for 215. Essex needed 291 for victory and got there with three wickets still standing. Notts were now 51 points behind Warwick with two games in hand. Notts failed to reach the target set by Somerset in the next match, Notts needing 322 to win ended on 317-7 with Broad scoring 131. This draw was followed by defeat in a game at Trent Bridge involving three declarations against Derbyshire. Hopes of the Championship were now very faint, but victory against Lancashire at Old Trafford kept a glimmer of hope alive. Notts needed a mammoth 359 to win in the last innings, but got there with seven down, Johnson scoring 114. The next two matches resulted in one loss – against Middlesex – and one draw – against Derbyshire – and with Essex roaring ahead of Warwickshire, the best Notts could hope for was fourth place. This they achieved by beating Worcestershire by an innings of 70 runs at Trent Bridge. Robinson made 180 and Stephenson, who had effectively announced his departure from Trent Bridge, had match figures of 7-89. Stephenson, the leading championship wicker-taker in each of his four seasons with Notts, was an extremely popular cricketer and after only being offered a one-year contract elected to join Sussex for 1992. Notts though saw young Kiwi all-rounder Chris Cairns, who appeared for the County in 1988 and 1989, as the long-term option as their overseas player and did not want him to slip from their grasp.
The playing results of the first eleven were therefore most satisfactory and the second eleven added to the Club’s laurels by winning the limited-overs Bain Clarkson Trophy, beating Surrey by eight wickets in the Final at The Oval.
The batting was very strong, Randall (1,567 runs @62.68), Robinson (1,673 runs @57.68) and Broad (1,739 runs @49.68) were outstanding. The 40 year-old Randall was back to his flamboyant best after a hernia operation. They were backed up by vice-captain Johnson (1,357 runs @45.23) and Pollard (1,235 runs @33.37) Stephenson was leading bowler with 78 wickets @25.76. The four other main bowlers were Pick (65 wickets @30.53), Andy Afford (57 wickets @31.87), Hemmings (46 wickets @37.41) and Evans (40 wickets @31.95). However, club stalwart Kevin Cooper missed virtually the whole season with a stress fracture of the spine, which required major surgery and it was the lack of seam bowling depth which proved the major stumbling block in the Championship.
Saxelby gained a regular place in the Sunday side and proved an asset, but only appeared in six Championship matches. French was very consistent behind the wicket (54 ct, 8 st) and therefore Chris Scott was rarely seen – at the end of the season he joined championship newcomers Durham. Duncan Martindale and Mick Newell spent virtually the whole summer with the second eleven and the success of that side was largely due to their efforts.
Mark Crawley made his debut at the first game of the summer, against Oxford University, and hit a century. An attractive batsman and accurate medium-pace bowler, he played in 10 championship fixtures but was handicapped by injury. The former Oxford Blue had been been signed from Lancashire during the previous winter. The only other debutant was Pascal Broadley, a young seamer from Edwinstowe who appeared in the penultimate match at Derby, in what turned out to be his sole First-Class appearance.
The third test of 1991 was staged at Trent Bridge in July. The West Indies won by nine wickets and thus maintained their unbeaten Test record at Nottingham. Curtly Ambrose, who took eight wickets, won the man of the match award. Total attendance was 33,417 with receipts of £540,115.