When Nottinghamshire set out in pursuit of 209 for victory on their championship visit to Edgbaston in 1988 the equation looked too close to call.
A weather-affected match had been kept alive by enterprising captaincy from Andy Lloyd and Tim Robinson and both sides their fancies their chances. But it didn’t prove too close a call at all – after Gladstone Small demolished Notts with 11.2-5-15-7.
The captains deserved great credit for setting it up. After Alastair Storie (68) and Geoff Humpage (58) lifted the Bears to 300 for eight, Lloyd declared and Robinson reciprocated by declaring almost 100 behind with his side on 206 for six (Derek Randall 69).
Lloyd closed the Bears’ second innings at 111 for four, teeing up that intriguing finish as the weather improved on the final day. Then Small got to work. Bowling with accuracy, pace and venom, he made a nonsense of Notts’ chase. They made a wobbly, but far from disastrous, start to 32 for two and then fell in a heap to 44 all out, unable to deal with Small’s perfectly-pitched seam-movement.
West Indian paceman Tony Merrick chipped in with the wicket of Paul Johnson, hit-wicket, and only Mick Newell defied. Remarkably, the opener batted through the innings – for ten not out!
Gladstone Small’s seven for 15 was pretty impressive – but still comes in second-best to Eric Hollies’ evisceration of Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston in 1946.
On a turning wicket (uncovered in those days, of course), Warwickshire batted first and made 170 to which Hollies contributed two runs. Then when Notts replied he contributed ten wickets.
It was a change of ends that did it. After the visitors advanced comfortably enough to 47 without loss, Staffordshire’s finest switched ends – and from that point onward was unplayable. When, to loud cheering from the Edgbaston crowd, he bowled number 11 Frank Woodhead for eight, Hollies had become only the second Warwickshire bowler to take an all-ten in first class cricket.
And while all all-tens are special, this one had an even more remarkable ingredient – none of the ten wickets required input from a fielder. Hollies bowled seven batsmen and trapped three lbw.
His final figures: 20.4-4-49-10 – and yet he still finished on the losing side! After the Bears’ second innings amounted to only 113, former Lincoln City goalkeeper Arthur Jepson getting among the wickets, Notts ground their way to a victory target of 150 for the loss of just three wickets. Second time around they clearly treated Hollies with extreme caution – his figures: 31-20-29-1.
The 1946 season was a busy one for Eric. In the championship he delivered 1,433 overs. Rather effectively too. He took 175 wickets at 15.16 apiece.
Here was one of the more bizarre endings to any game in the history of the county championship. And one of the shortest ever day’s play after Nottinghamshire, chasing a victory target of 12, ended the second day on eight without loss!
On a turning track, it was a game dominated by spinners Alex Loudon and Graeme Swann. After the Bears totalled 219 (captain Nick Knight scoring 57 and championship debut Luke Parker making 34 not out), Nottinghamshire batted well past them for 341 despite former Kent spinner Loudon taking six for 92.
A lead of 122 looked decisive with the pitch breaking up and Swann then dismantled the Bears’ second innings with six for 57. Only Ian Westwood, with 33, offered any sustained resistance and, as wickets tumbled, Nottinghamshire claimed the extra half-hour in search of clinching victory inside two days.
When the last wicket fell, deep inside the extra time, the visitors were left with 12 to win – and one over left in the day.
With the weather set fair for the following two days, surely the Bears would toss up a couple to expedite the conclusion of the game? Not so.
Neil Carter opened the bowling to normal fields and although Swann, sent in as pinch-hitter, swiped a couple of fours, Nottinghamshire ended the over on eight.
Let’s have another over, surely, just to get it all done? Nope. The laws are the laws, so off the players went.
They reconvened next morning for a day’s play which could have lasted just one ball. In fact it lasted four – and three minutes – before Darren Bicknell steered a Dewald Pretorius offering to the third man boundary.
Dougie Brown and Ian Bell will be leading the Bears as director of cricket and captain respectively when Warwickshire face Nottinghamshire on Sunday. In 2001 they were century-makers together to power their team towards a 139-run victory ultimately sealed by the erudite spin of Mark Wagh.
Batting first, the Bears made uneven progress at first until Bell and Brown came together to add 176 in 46 overs. Bell struck 103, becoming the youngest Warwickshire batsman to make a championship century (19 years, 115 days) and Brown scored 104.
Bell then inflicted a major blow with his medium-pace bowling, dismissing Kevin Pietersen, before Nottinghamshire commendably declared 23 behind to keep the match moving forward.
Some declaration bowling, which David Hemp exploited to the tune of 105, then led to the Bears pulling out at 257 for three, leaving the visitors a victory target of 291. They folded in the face of the diverse bowling merits of Vasbert Drakes (two wickets), Neil Smith (three) and Wagh who bamboozled the tail to hurry the match to a conclusion with 3-1-3-3.