RUNS & WICKETS; HIGH SCORES & LOW SCORES Hampshire’s recent Championship match at the Oval produced 1,297 runs (for twenty wickets). That’s quite a lot, but it never challenged their record of 1,706 runs v Warwickshire at Southampton in 1997 and in fact did not even dent their top ten aggregates in the Championship, which goes down to 1,425 at Trent Bridge in 2006.
In ninth place is a match v Kent at Southampton in 1911 in which the two sides accumulated 1,446 runs, despite Hampshire being dismissed for 208 in the first innings. HT Hardinge made in century in each innings for the visitors, and Hampshire were invited to score an improbable 568 to win. At 217 for four, and 264-5, they were in some trouble, but CB Fry and ER Remnant made centuries and Hampshire drew the game with 463-8 – Newman and Remnant sharing an unbeaten ninth wicket century partnership.
Why do I focus on that drawn match from the Top Ten aggregates? For three reasons: it is the only one in that list beyond the past twenty-five years, and therefore of course, the only one played over three days. It is also the only one played before the permanent introduction of covered pitches in the 1980s. It is interesting too, that eight of those matches took place at a county’s headquarters (Southampton, Nottingham, Canterbury) with only Portsmouth and Chesterfield as exceptions.
All these changes are factors in the very different game that modern Championship followers watch, from the game that I first experienced from the late 1950s. While nine of the ten highest aggregates in our history have occurred in the past 25 years, the ten lowest Championship aggregates, from 200 to 296, took place between 1898 and 1984, with two in the 1950s (both 1958), two in the 1960s, one in the 1970s and two (somewhat unconvincingly) in the 1980s. In fact, the lowest aggregate should not count because in wet weather, both sides forfeited and only 16 wickets fell at Bristol in 1982. Similarly, the third lowest in 1984 followed a lost second day, a forfeit, and then, on a wet pitch, Underwood took 7-21, with Hampshire 56 all out. Sometimes ‘pure’ statistics can be misleading. The second lowest v Yorkshire in 1898, is a particularly sad story as it’s the only match Hampshire lost in a day (30 wickets fell). It was Harry Baldwin’s benefit game and he lost money as well as the match.
The fourth and fifth lowest, both from 1958, are perhaps more interesting and - at the extreme end - indicative of county cricket in a wet summer, on outgrounds, and uncovered pitches. Hampshire had a realistic chance of their first Championship title in 1958 when in late June, they met Glamorgan at Neath. There was no play on the first day but then they dismissed their opponents for 72 (Malcolm Heath 7-46) and declared overnight on 120-6. Then Derek Shackleton took 6-20, and in 43 overs and three balls, Glamorgan were dismissed for 46, and Hampshire had won by an innings!
In such cases, when we try to compare Championship records over time, it becomes almost impossible, because there simply is no comparison between a match like that and the modern four-day game played mostly at county headquarters on flat covered pitches. But even at Neath, just 26 wickets fell. About six weeks later, Hampshire met Derbyshire at Burton-on-Trent, a match that effectively consigned them to the runners-up spot. This is the lowest aggregate in a Hampshire match in which all 40 wickets fell, as Derbyshire 74 & 107 beat Hampshire 23 & 55 by an incredible 103 runs. Think of poor Malcolm Heath who took 13-87 but finished on the losing side, while I have long suspected that Mike Barnard with five & 16 is the lowest, top-scorer in both innings ever for Hampshire!
There is a lot more evidence of the massive changes in county championship cricket in recent years – consider for example that from the start in 1895 to the end of the last century only two men made triple centuries for Hampshire, then in the first decade of this century Crawley (twice) and Carberry achieved the feat. It’s a different game – whether it’s better is another matter.
HAMPSHIRE’S NUMBERS I wonder how many Hampshire supporters recognise the names Dominic Clapp and Mark Thorburn? They don’t occupy a place in the history of Hampshire county cricket alongside the greatest names – Mead, Shackleton, Richards, a couple of Marshalls and Smiths for example – but they do share one visible place with all our great players; they appear on the Hampshire Cricketers’ Board on the walkway of the Atrium at the Ageas Bowl.
They do so because they played together for Hampshire in a three-day, first-class match in the Parks against Oxford University in May 2003. The match was drawn, and Clapp, a batsman, who had previously played once for Sussex, did not bat in Hampshire’s first innings and then was stumped off the young leg-spinner Michael Munday, having scored just four. Mark Thorburn, who previously played for Durham University, opened the bowling with James Bruce, and took 2-53 and 1-67.
There was a suggestion at the time that the two young men ‘made up the numbers’ because other players were not fit, unavailable or reluctant to play in a friendly. I do not know whether that is the case but we do know that neither Dominic nor Mark played again for Hampshire’s first team. That one appearance, nonetheless means that they are respectively numbers 465 and 466 on Hampshire’s list of first-class cricketers, and I confess that despite their modest records, I am envious – how wonderful to be forever listed as a first-class Hampshire cricketer!
They are included of course because these university matches have first-class status and the players listed on our board are only those who have played in such three or four-day matches. Clapp and Thorburn played very little but the strangest, saddest and shortest first-class career for Hampshire belongs to Frederick J Hyland. In 1924, he was selected to play for the county at Northampton. The home side batted first, and after Hampshire’s openers Kennedy and Newman had bowled one over each the rain came, and with the score 1-0 persisted throughout the three days. We have no idea whether Frederick even touched the ball in the field but we do know he never played again – nonetheless he is number 233 in our list of first-class cricketers.
While we include those names whether they played one match like our three examples, or 700 as Phil Mead did, we do not list any players who have played only in limited overs matches whether since 1963, over 65, 60, 55, 50, 45, 40 or 20 overs. This means that Shahid Afridi does not appear as a Hampshire cricketer on the board and neither does local lad Mitchell Stokes from Basingstoke, who between 2005-2007 played in 19 limited overs and T20 matches for the county.
Neither do we include any of the Hampshire cricketers who played in first-class matches for the county between 1864 – the fully constituted county club’s first game – and 1895 when we entered the County Championship. Except that some eminent cricket historians believe that the first-class Championship ratings, prior to the 1890s which were decided by the press, should count - in which case I think more than 100 extra names should be added to the board. If we do that, we throw out the numbering system. If we did that, we would have to recall all the caps given to players present and past and replace them with new numbers, and the statisticians would be given fresh challenges.
Similarly, should we suddenly decide that university matches do not warrant first-class status (a reasonable proposition), imposing such a judgement retrospectively would cause huge problems. Wherever possible, statistically it’s best to leave the past alone.
At the end of last season, our list was added to by another of our ‘one match wonders’ when David Wainwright played for us at Taunton as number 544. Very recently our new reserve wicketkeeper Carl Dickinson was another addition, among a number of newcomers already in 2017. He made his debut for us against South Africa A – another ‘interesting’ nomination as first-class – and quite probably holds a unique record of being the only man to score 99 on first-class debut for the county. To be honest I don’t have the inclination to check; had he scored one more it would have been much easier to add him to the list of the six men who have scored centuries on first-class debut for the county. In every case, as with Dickinson (ex-Oxford University), those men had played first-class cricket for another side previously – but that’s a story for another time.
When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease
There was ‘something in the air’ in English cricket in 1968 – not perhaps the violent revolutionary spirit that surfaced on the streets of Paris in the spring, or in the anti-Vietnam protests in London’s Grosvenor Square in the autumn, but for the first time, the counties were allowed to sign an overseas star player on an instant registration. No longer would a man like Roy Marshall have to spend three years qualifying by residence, and Hampshire, thwarted in an attempt to sign Clive Lloyd, signed instead a promising young South African, Barry Richards. That was one of a sequence of significant changes between 1963 & 1969, which also included the abolition of the amateur/professional divide, county cricket on Sundays and the new knock-out cup, and Sunday League, both sponsored by well-known companies. By 1968, I had been watching Hampshire for ten years but I saw relatively little of that season. I had left school in Portsmouth the previous summer, taking leave of my good friend Richard McIlwaine, who for a few seasons, pursued the dream of a cricket career at Hampshire. Meanwhile, I had a dream of my own. Like many teenagers, I enjoyed a good deal of the ‘swinging sixties’, but unlike many, I was participating fully, playing in a band with a record contract, touring the country and gigging in many of the first-class and minor counties (Norfolk was a regular). If there was free time, I spent much of it in the groovier bits of London – King’s Road perhaps or Notting Hill Gate, and so it was that on the afternoon of Saturday 29 June 1968, while Hampshire struggled to 187 all out at a damp Leicester, I found myself on a sunny afternoon at the Cockpit in Hyde Park with a few thousand other ‘beautiful people’, enjoying the very first in a series of free concerts which would subsequently feature the Rolling Stones, Blind Faith and others. While Radio One DJ John Peel took a boat on the Serpentine to listen, the majority of us sat on the grass, where we were entertained through the afternoon by Roy Harper, Tyrannosaurus Rex (the original acoustic duo), Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd, who concluded a very fine afternoon with a series of their longer ‘spacey’ instrumentals. Mr Peel later declared that Saturday the “best outdoor event” he had ever attended, and I confess that not once did my thoughts stray to a battling 37 not out by the promising David Turner which held the Hampshire innings together; Hyde Park in the sunshine or Leicester? No contest, I’m afraid. The acoustic set by singer-songwriter Roy Harper, opened the afternoon. This was fairly early in what has become his lengthy career, and his set probably drew upon his recently-released second album Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith, including “Nobody’s Got Any Money in the Summer” – certainly true of me back then – which had appeared on the popular ‘sampler’ album, The Rock Machine Turns You On. I would like to imagine that Roy played what is perhaps his most famous song “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”, although almost certainly that came a little later in his career, and was not recorded until the mid-1970s for his album HQ. The song mentions two leading English cricketers, John Snow and Geoff Boycott – the latter slightly surprisingly, since Harper is a Lancastrian – although Roy’s northern roots show on the recorded version on which he is accompanied by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. The opening line: “When the day is done, and the ball has spun, in the umpire’s pocket away”, the brass band, and the elegiac ‘feel’ of the song and production is rather more about cricket as it was before the 1960s’ ‘revolution’ and perhaps reminiscent of an afternoon watching a club or league match in his native county. We know too that around this time Harper was recovering from a serious illness and any intimations of mortality seem to inform much of the song – not least these two lines: “When the moment comes and the gathering stands and the clock turns back to reflect On the years of grace as those footsteps trace for the last time out of the act” “The years of grace”? That’s how it appears online, but perhaps Harper is taking us back further to the years of Grace? He has spoken of the song as being a “tribute to distant memories”. In the end, my pal Richard did not become the new ‘Shack’ and I never threatened cricket-loving Mick Jagger’s supremacy, but Roy Harper’s song stays with me, combining as it does the two great loves of my life, cricket and music. Indeed, as I move closer towards ‘close of play’, it takes on a richer meaning, and I thank him for it. Postscript: Hampshire won that match at Leicester, the wickets shared by what was surely the finest pace-attack in their history, Shackleton (in his last full season), White and Cottam. Danny Livingstone made an undefeated century.
Hyde Park 1968: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/hyde-pk-6-29-68.html
I am writing this the day after another couple of those remarkable List A games we get today. The first was at Headingley, where Yorkshire, minus their five England players, just beat Derbyshire in a match of 100 overs, which produced 683 runs and 15 wickets. Meanwhile, Lancashire and Warwickshire were only just behind, with 676 runs for 18 wickets. These would have been unimaginable match totals in the past - even when, for example, in 1975 v Glamorgan at Southampton, Richards & Greenidge took Hampshire to their record score of 371-4. Hampshire won easily but the match total was 'just' 578-14 – and in those days of course, the Gillette Cup was 60 overs per side. By way of a more considerable comparison I went back to the card of one of the first knock-out matches I saw live, when in 1971, Garry Sobers brought his Nottinghamshire side to my home city of Portsmouth. Hampshire did not have a great record in the early years from 1963-1970 – they won 10 and lost eight, reaching one semi-final, but six of the ten victories were against minor counties. The home fixtures were generally shared around and Hampshire arrived at Portsmouth having won their two previous fixtures there, against Kent and Glamorgan. Maybe it was their lucky ground?
It was a gloomy Saturday, and the forecast, not promising, proved to be accurate which was a particular shame since the match was televised with Denis Compton among the contributors and his pal Bill Edrich adjudicating Man-of-the-Match. Damp conditions and rain prevented any play until tea-time, when Sobers won the toss and despatched his openers Harris and White to face our preferred new ball pair of ‘Butch’ White and Bob Cottam – neither would be there in the following season. The score went steadily to 29, before local boy Trevor Jesty had Harris caught behind, followed almost immediately by Bolus lbw and then Smedley, a second catch for Bob Stephenson.
In the 18th over, Notts were 35-3 as Sobers joined White, and while they added 30, there was to be no great rescue act. From 65-3, Notts struggled to 113-9 after 55 overs at the close of the first day. Mike Taylor, then with Notts, was not out overnight, and recalls that the two teams were entertained on HMS Victory that evening at what should have been the conclusion of this ‘one day’ game. Back then that was a misnomer of course and as here, reserve days were quite often needed. So Notts resumed on Sunday at the permitted 2pm, when their two Taylors took them to a final score of 129-9. The early Hants hero Jesty, ended with the most ‘expensive’ figures of 3-36 from 12 overs, ‘Butch’ 3-32. A target of 130, even in 50 overs today would seem as near a certainty as cricket offers, but in no time, Sobers had bettered Jesty, dismissing Richards, Greenidge and Turner with just six runs on the board. From here it became an enthralling battle; Roy Marshall (31) and Peter Sainsbury took them to 65, the ‘skipper’ Gilliat contributed 21, as the score advanced gradually to 79-5, then 100-6 and when Jesty was seventh out, 15 more were needed. They got there with Bob Stephenson 12*, and ‘Butch’ White 5*, so that John Rice, surprisingly listed at number 10, was not needed. Hampshire won with five overs to spare. Bill Edrich gave the match award to Peter Sainsbury on his 37th birthday for economical bowling (12 overs, 22 runs) and his 32. In total, we saw just 259 runs scored for 16 wickets in 115 overs, yet much of the game was an enthralling battle between bat & ball. That’s not so common these days, is it? Postscript In the next round Hampshire went to Edgbaston for the third time since 1964, and as with the previous two matches, they lost and were knocked-out. That ‘habit’ was reversed when we reached our first Nat West Final, winning there in 1991, and there were a couple of Lord’s Finals to celebrate in 2005 and 2012.
Two photos from Saturday's Havant v Alton on Saturday (Havant batting) - the first day of the new Southern League, with white ball, black screen, coloured clothes etc. I nearly choked on my G&T - Alton beat the Champions from last ball