The 1984 Championship was not decided until the second last ball of the last over of the last game. The contenders were Essex and Nottinghamshire. Essex had won their final game against Lancashire in two days. Now all they could do was wait to see what would happen at Taunton. If Somerset were beaten, the title would be heading to Trent Bridge
Derek Pringle (Essex allrounder):
Chelmsford cheer: Essex's Stuart Turner, David East and Brian Hardie listen to commentary from Taunton (top), and celebrate Ollis's catch
© Essex CCC|
After our game at Old Trafford we
all drove down to Chelmsford and
sat in the President's room - a
grand name for a terrible place - to
listen out for what was happening
at Taunton. It poured with rain the
next day in Manchester so, if we
hadn't won so quickly, the game
would almost certainly have been
Richard Ollis (Somerset substitute
fielder): I was often 12th man that
season and never minded getting
on the pitch because it meant you
didn't have to run the baths, make
the drinks and help with the
Ollis's captain was Ian Botham.
Nottinghamshire had declared 52
runs short of Somerset's firstinnings
total of 274. It now looked as
if Botham would return the favour.
Pringle: We were all saying,
"Botham won't declare; he won't
give Nottinghamshire a chance,"
but he set them a very gettable
target. He always enjoyed a good
joke on his mates at Essex.
Ollis: I fielded in both innings.
When Viv Richards and Joel
Garner were in the side, you
tended to get on quite often.
Vic Marks (Somerset): Botham made a clever judgement, wanting
to keep the game open. I think he
also wanted to declare slightly
earlier because he couldn't be
bothered to have a bat. I was
thinking, "We haven't got enough."
Clive Rice (Nottinghamshire
captain): Botham said, "I'll give
you a chance, I'll set you a target
and our spinners will bowl all the
way through." Old Skid Marks
bowled from one end and the
young left-arm spinner Stephen
Booth came on from the other.
Marks: I may be making this up
but it's possible there could have
been a conversation where I said
"We need more runs" and Both
said something like "Well, you go
out there and get them then".
Marks added a few more and
Botham did declare. He set
Nottinghamshire a target of 297 for
the game and title. The time left
meant that 60 overs would be bowled. It was a very different finish
from the one Essex had just enjoyed,
a 10-wicket victory. The trip had
featured a memorable contribution
from the Lancashire and England
batsman Frank Hayes, who was not
Pringle: We'd being staying at a
pub on Portland Street in
Manchester and Frank, who had
been forced to retire earlier in the
season, was desperate to meet up
with his great pal Ray East and
have a few drinks.
Rice: We had played Sussex in the
previous game and their captain,
John Barclay, had decided that,
because we had beaten them to the
Championship in 1981, he was not
even going to give us a game. So it
ended in a draw. He gave us a
pathetic declaration figure. Clearly
he still had a chip on his shoulder.
Pringle: Keith Fletcher was having
none of it and Ray was told to stay
in his room. "You're not going out
with that madman Hayes," Fletch
kept telling him. Frank did not
give up, though, and very late he
erected a pile of fire extinguishers
outside Ray's door. In the middle of
the night they crashed down and
sprayed all over the hall.
Marks: Botham was good in those
situations because he liked Essex;
they were a fun side to play
against. But he felt obliged to get
the balance right and he did that
day. A lot of skippers would have
killed the game.
Pringle: The landlord said: "Right.
That's it. You lot aren't ever coming
here again." Fletch pointed out
that it was hardly our fault.
Down in Taunton Botham was true
to his word. He and Martin Crowe
took the shine off the ball before
handing it to the spinners Marks and
Rice: Botham's target was
outstanding. How can you judge it
Marks: Everyone got some tap. It was
a frenetic run chase because they
had to go for it come what may. I've
a feeling I got Derek Randall caught
and bowled with a horrible full toss
he hit straight back to me.
Chris Broad and Tim Robinson put on 70 as Notts chased down their
target. Paul Johnson, Richard
Hadlee and Bruce French weighed in
with 20s in the middle order. They
were giving themselves a chance.
Rice: Hadlee holed out on the
boundary. It was a bit controversial
because the guy who caught it fell
through the advertising boards
and in those days I think that was
still out. Even so there was all sorts
of hoo-hah over the decision
because it was such a tight game.
Rice had scored 98 including three
sixes and nine fours from 109 balls
when he went for his 13th boundary.
Ollis stood between the ball's path
and Rice's hundred.
Clive Rice trudges off as Nottinghamshire's title hopes disappear
© The Cricketer|
Marks: I got Clive Rice caught for
98, did I? Well, knowing Clive it
would not have been a dolly
popping up at short leg.
Ollis: I was at long on when I
caught Rice. I was just to the left of
the old pavilion in front of all the
Nottinghamshire fans. They were
getting a little bit agitated and Both
said to me: "Look, if you get another
catch at the death, I shouldn't hang
around but leg it straight over to
the dressing rooms."
Marks: Ollis was a young batsman
and a good goalkeeper and fielder,
a good athlete, in fact. One other
thing I remember: his father ran a
transport business in Frome.
Nottinghamshire continued to hit
out bravely but wickets fell. The ask
became 79 from 10 overs then 36
from the last three. The Notts No. 10
was Mike Bore, a specialist bowler
who would end his playing days with
a first-class batting average of 8.24.
Rice: If you knew Mike, then
believe me, every run he made was
an unexpected bonus. I wasn't
daring even to watch. No one was
allowed to move inside the
dressing room. Everyone stayed in
their seats as we got closer and
Mike Bore (Nottinghamshire): If it was pitched on the off stump, I
thought, I'll hit it straight. If it's on
my legs, I'll sweep it.
His plan was working. He had made
17 before the last over started.
Another 14 would mean he would
never have to buy a drink in Nottinghamshire again.
Marks: Mike Bore was a
Yorkshireman, not renowned for
the power of his batting. If he
pulled this off, it would have been
the innings of his life.
Booth to Bore. The last over of the
season. First ball, four. Second ball,
four. Third ball, two.
Bore: They were calculated slogs.
Four needed from three balls. Nine
wickets down. Five months of toil
and hope compressed into half an
over. Bore blocked the next delivery.
Bore: The non-striker and No. 11
Andy Pick came down the track
and said, "What did you do that
for?" I replied: "It wasn't in the
The next delivery was in the right
place. Bore gave it all he had and the
ball sailed towards the stands.
Bore: As soon as I hit it, I thought,
"That's it, we've won."
Rice: He really got hold of it nicely
and, if Ollis doesn't grab it, it's six
and we win.
Ollis: It came over and I caught it
10 feet in from the boundary, just
above my head.
Marks: He took a good catch.
Another few feet and the hit would
have gone for six.
It was all over. Notts had lost by
three runs and the title belonged to
Rice: So we'd gone the whole
season and we end up with a one-ball-hit to decide the Championship.
It was really tough. We'd been
fighting for the title and it came
down to this. How depressed could
you get? Afterwards, well it was
shocking. All that hard work and
that's how it finishes.
Ollis: Winning the match didn't
make a great deal of difference to
our position in the Championship,
so it was sad for Notts. For me as a
young lad it was a chance to pick
up a win bonus.
Bore: We were stunned. We got in
the car and I don't think we spoke
a word until we were well past
Gloucester. No matter how many
times I lie in bed and replay that
ball I never score those four runs.
In the President's room at
Chelmsford the cheers rang around.
Pringle: We had a very strong side.
Norbert Phillip and Ken McEwan
were fine overseas players and
everyone in the team knew what
their roles were. It was a great
dressing room - a lot of fun - but
we would turn it on when we went
on to the pitch. Keith Fletcher was
the best captain I played under.
Rice: Whoever Upstairs mapped
this game out hellishly well.
Ollis: The next season I was picked
for the game against Essex and
John Lever did me for a duck. As I
walked off Derek Pringle said with
a smile: "That's no way to treat the
man who won us the title."
This article was first published in the October 2006 issue of The Wisden Cricketer.
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