Nottinghamshire have ample excuses for the collapse of their Championship challenge according to a statistical study of the 2012 season.

Records drawn up by Neville Scott, a freelance cricket journalist who specialises in analysis of the county game, show that Nottinghamshire were more badly hit than any other county by the combined effects of the absences of first-choice players and one of the wettest summers ever endured.

For much of the season, Nottinghamshire were the closest challengers to Warwickshire, eventual winners of County Championship, until a late slide saw them finish fifth as another high-profile dip into the transfer market, this time for the England batsman James Taylor, failed to bring immediate rewards.

But statistics show that Nottinghamshire lost an average of nearly four players per match to injury or international calls, more than any other county in both divisions, and also potentially lost more points because of rain than any of their Division One rivals.

Scott's study aims to show not just a simple record of hours of play lost to rain but the maximum realistic number of extra points which they might have gained but for rain - a somewhat notional figure but one which seeks to provide a more accurate assessment of a county's ill luck.

Not only did Nottinghamshire miss the chance to gain a maximum of 120 extra points because of the dismal weather, nine of their 16 Championship matches were affected.

Three Division Two counties - Yorkshire, Essex and Gloucestershire - were more badly affected by the weather than Nottinghamshire. For Essex, who can normally rely on drier weather than most, it was an unusual situation.

Yorkshire's Australian coach, Jason Gillespie, bemoaned the weather on an almost daily basis and he had reason, despite their success in sneaking promotion in the last game of the season, as rain had robbed them from contesting 151 additional points - the worst luck in the country.

Those who regarded Derbyshire's promotion with surprise will notice that they shared with Sussex the best fortune with the weather.

Absent: Average number of first-choice players absent per match through injury or by England orders; excludes IPL absentees or overseas players who could have been replaced
Rain: Max. realistic number of extra points which might have been gained but for rain. Number of affected games in brackets.

More than half the Championship matches played were interrupted by rain to an extent where stoppages affected points gained - comfortably the highest number since Scott began his study 13 years ago.

Tomorrow: In the second of our four-part series, we reveal the only county that fielded a majority of players in 2012 who learned their cricket outside the UK; and why Yorkshire can no longer regard themselves as more homegrown than most.