Hampshire Cricket History

February 24, 2013, 11:38 am
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Champions: Yorkshire.

With the war continuing in South Africa, Hampshire suffered from the loss of a number of regular amateur cricketers required on service duty, including Greig, Barrett, Wynyard and Poore although the latter played occasionally in August. Although they won two matches (of 16), Hampshire finished last, losing 10 matches – and they were ‘wooden spoonists’ every year from 1902-1905 inclusive.

The failings were easy to spot. With their leading batters absent no player reached 700 runs and Llewellyn who topped the averages managed just 626 runs at 26.08. In addition to the absentees neither Hill nor Sprot showed good form and there was just one century – by Llewellyn at Derby. He was also the leading bowler with 94 Championship wickets (17.67) and Mr H Heseketh-Pritchard took 38 wickets at 20.78 apart from which only Soar with 25 wickets reached double figures. Victor Barton suffered an eye problem and missed a number of matches. Llewellyn was in an England ‘squad’ for the Oval Test but was not selected – in the event he would play eventually for his native South Africa.

Bournemouth’s Dean Park pavilion was opened. Sadly both matches were lost although it was a near thing against Warwickshire. The visitors were dismissed for 99 but after a good start, Hampshire could manage a lead of just 32. They were set 121 to win but only Alec Bowell with 30 resisted the visiting bowlers. Bowell had come down from Oxford and was the first of a group of professionals who would transform the county’s fortunes over the next decade and beyond, although he made a modest start in this his debut season.

February 24, 2013, 10:20 am
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Champions: Yorkshire

This is the Hampshire side for their match at Sussex where Mr Barrett and Captain Greig scored centuries in an innings of 388. Llewellyn took five wickets as Sussex replied with 254 but the match was curtailed and drawn.

Nonetheless, it indicates a (sadly temporary) revival in Hampshire’s fortunes. Captain Greig had been recommended by Wynyard after scoring regularly in military cricket in India and in his second match he scored 119 v South Africans. In the same innings Llewellyn scored 216 against his fellow countrymen (plus six wickets in the match) as Hampshire won by an innings. Greig had a brief, poor run until at Liverpool he scored 47* and 249* in a drawn match which Hampshire saved after a deficit of 307. Hampshire won six of their 18 matches and finished level with Kent in seventh place – their best-ever to that point.

Of the regulars, Greig, Sprot and Webb averaged over 35, while Wynyard and Barrett made occasional useful contributions. Llewellyn scored 717 runs (23.90) and took 115 wickets in his first full season although there was little support – only Barton (48) passed 30 wickets and Baldwin managed just 11 at 48.27. He retired but returned briefly in 1904 to boost a weak bowling attack.

The bowling club next door to the county ground complained about the danger from cricket balls hit into their space. At the season’s end, Dr Bencraft informed the AGM that AC MacLaren was moving south for his wife’s health and had accepted the post of Assistant Treasurer – and player. In the event it did not materialise and he remained with Lancashire.

February 23, 2013, 10:39 am
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As we have seen (below) Hampshire endured a very poor season, losing 16 of their 22 Championship matches – and most of these defeats were by considerable margins. Four were by an innings, three by more than five wickets, seven by more than 150 runs and the other two by 143 and 111 runs which was their narrowest defeat! Leicestershire who were next to bottom won three matches.

Two men, captain Wynyard and the Rev GB Raikes averaged over 40 but played just five and six innings respectively. Of the regulars, Victor Barton passed 1,000 runs but at an average below 30 although he also took 38 wickets. Baldwin took 84 wickets but at 28.85 and no one else managed 40 in the season – Soar headed the averages at 23.12 but with just 24 wickets.

Hampshire also played against the West Indians at Southampton in late July, the visitors winning by 90 runs. Llewellyn, still qualifying, scored 93 and took 12 wickets. His regular presence might have made a considerable difference to Hampshire but he could not play in the Championship.

The New Century
February 23, 2013, 9:46 am
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In Hampshire’s official history (1957), HS Altham wrote

“The first six years of the (twentieth) century were indeed a depressing period for the county’s cricket. Of the 109 fixtures which were played in those seasons, sixty-six were lost and only twelve were won and in five of the six seasons we were bottom of the Championship Table. No wonder then that the gates suffered severely, so much so indeed that in the winter of 1904 the committee were seriously discussing closing the county ground at Southampton and poor Soar’s benefit match in 1900 resulted in a loss of £6!” (p 52)

Altham pointed out that the principal cause of this poor run was instability – for example in 1900 alone 41 players appeared. In the next major history Peter Wynne-Thomas (1988) added details:

“The Boer War affected Hampshire more than any other county in 1900. Captain Wynyard’s military duties meant that he resigned as captain and handed the reigns over to Charles Robson … Beside Wynyard, Hampshire lost Poore, Heseltine and for most matches Quinton as well as two or three more who had been occasionally in the side, to the military authorities …” (p 65)

In addition, Hampshire’s regular bowlers were ageing. At the start of the 1900 season Baldwin was 40 and Soar was 34, while AJL Hill was often absent on business. Robson who took on the captaincy was a somewhat reluctant wicketkeeper who had begun his career at Middlesex as an attacking batsman and occasional bowler.

1899 (part three)
February 22, 2013, 1:10 pm
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Champions: Surrey.

Major RM Poore enjoyed his great season, indeed one of the greatest seasons that any Hampshire player has ever experienced. He was a serving officer and began the summer taking the highest honours as a swordsman at the Military Tournament and he also played in the team that won the Army’s Regimental Polo Competition.. Then in mid-June he travelled to Portsmouth and scored 104 & 119* v Somerset – the only man ever to score two first-class hundreds on that ground. He followed this with 111 & 40 v Lancashire, 11 v Essex, 175 & 39* v Surrey (back at Portsmouth) and after missing the match at Brighton, came the extraordinary performance at Taunton (scorecard below)

Poore scored Hampshire’s first triple century (304 v Somerset at Taunton) in Hampshire’s highest innings in first-class cricket (672-7 dec) until 2005. Poore and Wynyard’s 411 for the sixth wicket remains a record in county cricket. Hampshire were the first side to score over 600 in a day’s play in first-class cricket, while Somerset’s wicketkeeper did not concede a single bye in the innings.

For Poore, there was another century at Worcester, 71 v the Australians, 79 & 53* at Derby and 157 at Leicester. That match was drawn and then his season finished on 12 August after which he returned to the Army and was soon in South Africa for the start of the Boer War. In 12 completed innings for Hampshire he scored 1399 runs (at 116.58)

While Poore and Wynyard were part of a generally strong batting side, only Baldwin with 78 wickets at 27.89 was effective with the ball and Hampshire won just four of their 20 matches, finishing 11th. Captain ECR Bradford was twice called for throwing. South African CB Llewellyn, Hampshire’s first ‘overseas’ cricketer, took 8-132 and scored 72 and 21 on debut for Hants v the Australians while qualifying to appear in the Championship but there were complaints that the pavilion was filled with non-members for this match. Worcestershire became the 15th side admitted to the County Championship

1899 (part two): The record partnership
February 21, 2013, 7:17 pm
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v Sset 1899

1899 (part one)
February 21, 2013, 4:25 pm
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Hampshire v Essex at Southampton 26-28 June

The players are, left to right, (Back): Webb, Gravett, Soar, Baldwin, Barton (Middle): Robson, Poore, Wynyard, Quinton (Front): English, Bencraft (secretary), Heseltine

To enlarge, click on image