A brief history of Nottinghamshire

Sam Collins

Formed 1841
First-class debut 1835
Admitted to Championship1890
County Championship 1907, 1929, 1981, 1987, 2005
Gillette/NatWest/C&G 1987
Benson & Hedges 1989
Sunday League 1991, 2004 (Div Two)
Twenty20 Best - Semi-finals 2006

Back in the 1830s, cricketers in Nottinghamshire would gather at The Bell Inn, owned by William Clarke, and arrange matches from inside its walls. In 1838 he moved on to the Trent Bridge Inn, and laid out a cricket ground in the meadow next door. This meadow is known today as Trent Bridge and has played host to Tests since 1899.

Nottinghamshire, as we know them now, were formed in the spring of 1841, but they played their inaugural first-class match in 1835 against Sussex. They dominated the unofficial Championship, winning or sharing it 18 times between 1852 and the formal establishment of the competition in 1890.

Key names in this early period include George Parr, who succeeded Clarke as owner of Trent Bridge and captain of the club, and after hwo the fampus oask that bordered the ground was named. George Gunn, who made 583 appearances for the club over 30 years, was another stalwart They first won the Championship in 1907, with the spin bowling of George Wass and Albert Hallam particularly influential.

The club were always well placed during the inter-war years, second on a number of occasions and winning the Championship in 1929 under the shrewd captaincy of Arthur Carr. The side was built upon the fearsome fast-bowling partnership of Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, and while it is Larwood who will forever be associated with Bodyline, it was Voce who cost Carr his job in 1934 when he followed his captain's instructions and used the strategy against the touring Australians. Larwood retired soon after and Nottinghamshire cricket took a while to recover.

The team struggled in the period after World War Two, finishing in the bottom three for six seasons in succession between 1957 and 1962, before a brief respite in 1968 when they recruited the great West Indian Garry Sobers and finished fourth. It was while playing for Nottinghamshire that Sobers hit his six sixes in an over against Glamorgan.

They had a real resurgence in the late seventies and early eighties, led by the recruitment of the New Zealand allrounder Richard Hadlee, and the South African Clive Rice, who would later coach the club. They gelled perfectly with the mercurial talents of Derek Randall and the team won the Championship in 1981 and again in 1987, with Chris Broad and Tim Robinson also featuring. In that era, few sides relished visiting Trent Bridge where many griped that the green wickets were tailored for Hadlee.

Since then they have underachieved, typified by the boom and bust campaigns between 2003 and 2006. In four consecutive seasons, Nottinghamshire were relegated from the first division of the Championship, champions of the second division, won the Championship in 2005 and were relegated again in 2006.

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in London