Britanic Assurance County Championship 1996
With just a single victory, the county had a very disappointing Championship campaign. Not since 1977 had the team had to settle for one win. In 1995 five victories had been gained and the county finished the summer in 11th place; last season all that can be said is that Notts avoided the wooden spoon.
The averages reveal the immediate cause of the decline. The principal seam bowlers of 1995, Cairns and Pick, both showed a dramatic drop in their records. The latter missed many matches through injury and his seven wickets cost 69 runs each, compared with 45 wickets at 34 runs a piece in 1995.
In the continued absence of Pick, Cairns shared the new ball with Evans, Pennett, Mike and Bowen, Evans was economical, but his victims cost 40 runs each. He did take five wickets in an innings twice as did Bowen. The former Northants bowler gained a regular place in the Championship side during the course of the season and proved a useful acquisition.
Of the spinners, Afford regained his rhythm and his confidence. He appeared in every match, finished at the top of the bowling table, with his wickets costing 20 runs each less than the 1995 summer.
Against Lancashire at Trent Bridge he took nine wickets, including six for 51 in the second innings; he also took six in an innings against Derbyshire. His fellow left arm spinner, Hindson, was so much out of sorts that he did not appear in a single Championship match. The off-spinner, Bates, was given more opportunities and his bowling improved in quality.
Overall the batting figures were almost a repeat of 1995. The first three in the averages remain the same. Robinson, the veteran of the side, seems as assured as ever. He was the only batsman to reach 1,000 runs. An injury meant that Archer missed several games, this mean that he just missed 1,000 runs though his average remained 40.
Cairns, in third place, was as destructive as ever. Metcalfe missed the final three matches through injury. He hit his first hundred for the county, coming in at No.4, but he also opened the innings on occasion.
Dowman played a brilliant innings against Surrey in mid-August, having spent much of the summer in the seconds: he was retained in the senior side for the last four matches.
Johnson, in his first year as captain, began with 90 against Sussex; after 63 and 88 v Lancashire, he hit 103 against Northants. From mid-June his form dipped, but he managed to score a century in the final fixture.
Noon commenced the season as the principal wicketkeeper. In June Walker kept in four matches, but an injury mean that Noon regained his potion in July. There is not a deal to choose between the two, either as wicketkeepers or batsmen.
The irrepressible Afzaal appeared in four games and twice reached fifty, but his bowling proved expensive. Hart and Franks, the young seamers both played one game; the latter went with England Under 19s during the winter.
The season began with the Sussex fixture. Notts might have gained a win, but for the weather – Johnson declared behind on first innings in order to try for a definite result, but in vain.
Although Somerset and especially Rose, had all the best of the second game, Notts were unlucky not to beat Lancashire in the third match, when an obstinate ninth wicket stand allowed the visitors to escape.
If the games with Sussex and Lancashire had turned out to be victories, the whole pattern of the rest of the campaign might well have been different. As it was, the single win came at the expense of Gloucestershire, when a first innings lead of 270 put Notts overwhelmingly in command. Evans took five for 30 in the second innings as the county of the Graces followed on.
The Anglo-Australian Symonds played exceptionally well for Gloucester, scoring 57 and 117 and showing why both countries were interested in his future.
There followed five successive defeats, the run only ending when rain ruined the Surrey game at Trent Bridge. More defeats followed, though the campaign did end in a high scoring draw at Southampton.