Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club has been playing at Trent Bridge ground, one of the oldest and most attractive cricket grounds in the world, since the Victorian era. Despite their place at the centre of English county cricket since the middle of the nineteenth century, it is only in the last few years that Nottinghamshire have started to collect trophies and become more prolific at the top of the game. Today, nearly 250 years since the county played their first recorded match, Nottinghamshire cricket is more dynamic than it has ever been.
The Early Days
The tradition of county cricket in Nottinghamshire is at least two hundred years old. The earliest known cricket match played by a Nottinghamshire county team took place in August 1771, against a club from Sheffield, although the match was never concluded ‘on account of a dispute having arisen by one of the Sheffield players being jostled’.
Nottingham cricket survived in one form or another into the next century and, in 1835, an official county team made its first fixture against Sussex. The match was held at Brighton and lasted for three full days between the 27th and 29th of August. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club was made official in 1841, though the club had already been playing matches against other counties for some time.
A Professional Team
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, county cricket became increasingly professionalized. The early days saw Nottingham come into the limelight as Champion County, either jointly or alone, no fewer than eighteen times in the years between 1852 and 1889.
But when ‘Champion County’ turned into the County Championship in the twentieth century, the club’s impressive form disappeared. They won the County Championship in 1907 and again in 1929, but two world wars and their aftermath would impact negatively on Nottingham’s form for many years to come. Despite this, in the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, the club earned a reputation as something of a nursery for good players who went on to greater things nationally and internationally. Founding club captain William Clarke was also a founder member of the All England Eleven in 1846, a forerunner of today’s national squad. A later Nottinghamshire captain, George Parr, would follow in Clarke’s footsteps in more ways that one when he took a place as captain of the first national English touring team.
The Nottinghamshire team was known for its cosmopolitan international approach in an age when county cricket was usually just that: a team made up of young players from the home county and surrounding areas. This was starting to change in the second half of the twentieth century and, in the 1960s, Nottinghamshire signed Garfield Sobers, the West Indian international who was perhaps the most famous cricket star of his day.
In the late 1970s, Notts built up a strong team of internationals from all over the world who were carefully selected to complement one another by a management team who prided themselves on their tactical prowess. The club reaped the benefits of this in the early 1980s -their greatest triumph came in 1981, when the club won the County Championship for the first time since 1929.
However, it was 1987 that would prove to be the peak of Nottinghamshire’s club career to date, when they took both the County Championship and the Natwest Trophy. Although they would not manage to better this season’s haul, they took the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1989, and started off the 1990s with a National Sunday League title in 1991, as well as continuing their tradition of contributing some stalwarts to the national team.
Unfortunately though, these wins were not the prelude to a period of dominance, and Nottingham failed to win anything of note for over a decade after their Sunday League success. In the 1990s, however, while the home team remained stuck in a rut, Trent Bridge cricket ground was going up in the world. Two new stands -the William Clarke Stand, and the Hound Road Stand – were opened in 1990 and 1993 respectively. An all-new Trent Bridge Cricket Centre was later opened in 1998, at a cost of £7.2 million, and the building work continued in 2002, when a £1.9 million Fox Stand was unveiled by Sir Ian Botham.
However, despite their headline-grabbing ground, Nottinghamshire themselves were decidedly quiet. It was not until 2004 that they would return to anything like their previous form. That year, they gained promotion to the Frizzell County Championship Division One, and also Totesport Division One, after coming top of Division Two.
In 2005, Nottinghamshire finally claimed the County Championship title once more, under the captaincy of New Zealander Stephen Fleming. However, the next season they could not manage to hold onto their title or even hold onto their place in the league. They were relegated by the fractional margin of just half a point in 2006. However, the season’s bitterness was sweetened by relative success in the Twenty20 Cup, as the team made it to the final for the first time against Leicester, in which Nottinghamshire acquitted themselves well despite ultimately conceding the game.
The Club Today
Trent Bridge continues to undergo major renovations, and these improvements are raising Nottinghamshire’s cricketing status. In 2007, Notts won promotion back to the top flight of the County Championship after finishing second in Division Two. Because they have yet to secure themselves a comfortable position in the league, there is everything to fight for over the next few seasons, with the possibility of more silverware not so very far away.
- Most first-class runs for Nottinghamshire – G. Gunn (31592)
- Most first-class wickets for Nottinghamshire – T. Wass (1653)
- Highest total for Nottinghamshire – 791 (vs. Essex at Chelmsford, 2007)
- Highest total against Nottinghamshire – 791 (by Northamptonshire at Northampton, 1995)
- Best bowling – 10/66 K. Smales (vs. Gloucestershire at Stroud, 1956)
- ‘Highest batting score‘– 312 WW Keeton (vs. Middlesex at The Oval, 1939)
- Best partnership for each wicket – DJ Bicknell and GE Welton (vs. Warwickshire at Birmingham, 2000)
- Champion County – 1853, 1862, 1865, 1868, 1871, 1872, 1875, 1880, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886;
- Champion County (shared) – 1852, 1869, 1873, 1879, 1882, 1889
- County Championship – 1907, 1929, 1981, 1987, 2005
- Division Two -2004
- Gillette/NatWest/C&G Trophy – 1987
- Sunday/National League – 1991
- Benson & Hedges Cup – 1989
Online box office, with information on prices, admissions policies and purchasing tickets can be found here.
Tel: 0870 168 88 88
Fax: 0115 982 2753
Trent Bridge ground is a 20 minute walk from the city railway station approximately or, for those travelling by car, six miles off the M1. Maps and full directions to the ground can be found on an online cricket club information page.