Garry Sobers announced at the start of the 1974 season, that it would be his final summer in county cricket. Nottinghamshire therefore had the task of seeking a replacement for the man considered the world's greatest post-war cricketer. Instead of going, for a second time, for a big name, the Club chose Clive Rice, who in 1974 was playing in Lancashire League cricket and whose slight brush with fame was being picked for the 1971-72 South African tour to Australia, which was cancelled. Rice's only meaningful cricket to date was with Transvaal.
He played in one Second Eleven game for Notts in 1974, with good results, but to the general public in England he was unknown when at the beginning of the 1975 season he made his County debut. He disappointed no one, hitting 1,128 runs and taking 53 wickets in the Championship. Rice was also instrumental in pushing the County to 5th place in the Sunday League and a quarter final place in the Gillette. Rice had topped the Notts bowling table. In 1976 the fans now expected results Rice topped both the Championship batting and bowling tables. The report notes, 'Nottinghamshire leaned heavily of the skill of the South African, Rice'.
His most amazing innings that year was 246 in 300 minutes against Sussex at Hove - the next highest scorer made just 44. Rice hit six sixes and 32 fours. In 1977 Rice not only repeated the feat of topping both batting and bowling in the Championship, but did the same for the Sunday League. The report on the County that summer was quite blunt, `Without Rice Nottinghamshire cricket would have been a shambles'.
1978 saw the arrival of Hadlee at Trent Bridge and the ten year partnership of the pair won major honours for the club. Rice, after a hiccup due to his winters with Packer's World Series Cricket, was appointed Notts' captain in July 1979. Rice led by example, sometimes rather in a bull at a gate fashion, but his own talent usually forced the opposition to defeat. The Championship was won in 1981 and 1987 also saw the One Day Knock-Out Competition won in rather bizarre circumstances, after the first day was rain affected.
When he retired at the close of 1987 his first-class career batting average was 44.29; but in the Sunday League he had the outstanding statistics of 6,265 runs at 42.33 as well as 184 wickets at 22.90.
Clive Edward Butler Rice was born in Johannesburg on 23 July 1949. Educated at St John's College he played in that school's XI in 1965 and 1966. In 1969 he made his first class debut for Transvaal and, as has been noted, just missed out on Test honours. In 1973 he came to England as a professional for Ramsbottom. In South African domestic cricket he captained Transvaal to the Currie Cup title - in fact Transvaal won the Currie Cup ten times in 20 years whilst Rice represented the side. He played for South Africa in a number of Unofficial Tests, latterly as captain, and captained South Africa in their first ODI. His first-class cricket continued until 1993-94, his final years being with Natal.
He returned to Trent Bridge as the newly appointed Cricket Manager in 1999. The team’s performances that year were even more modest than during Ormrod’s final campaign.
Rice decided on drastic action. No less than eight players left and there were a clutch of replacements signed including Darren Bicknell, John Morris, AJ Harris, and David Millns, plus the world’s fastest bowler, Shoaib Akhtar. If Shoaib had actually appeared maybe history would have been different. Injury meant otherwise and Notts were without an overseas star until mid-July. The overall results showed no improvement.
A second winter of recruitment was launched and in came Kevin Pietersen, Greg Smith, Richard Logan and Greg Blewett. It seemed to work – seven out of the first eight one-dayers ended in victory. After that the summer went downhill though. The batting was robust but the bowling attack struggled.
The 2002 season started with a series of poor results and the Committee took the drastic action of sacking their former star and promoting then Second Eleven Coach Mick Newell.
Stuart MacGill, signed in early August from Australia, produced some startling bowling figures and Notts finished third in the Championship Second Division, thus gaining elevation for 2003.
In July 2015 the Club was deeply saddened to announce that Clive had passed away at the age of 66. A minute’s applause was held ahead of the Fourth Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge as a mark of respect.